‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’: The Most Excellent Adventure Continues
Over 30 years after Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter introduced the world to the loveable dimwits Theodore “Ted” Logan and William S. “Bill” Preston, who traveled through time in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” the duo returns for the third installment of the film series, “Bill & Ted Face the Music.” This time, the stakes are higher than ever, as the pair are tasked with writing a song that will not only unite the world, but also save reality, and they only have 77 minutes to do it.
When we last saw Bill and Ted, they were adventuring through Heaven and Hell in 1991’s “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” In the years since, they have failed to live up to their musical potential, as their band Wyld Stallyns have been reduced to performing at local Taco Tuesdays. They’ve had more success in their personal lives, as they’re still married to the medieval princesses they wooed in the first film, Bill to Joanna (Jayma Mays), and Ted to Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes). Each one also has a 24-year-old daughter, Bill and Joanna have Theodora “Thea” Preston (Samara Weaving), while Ted and Elizabeth are parents to Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine).
The film opens with the wedding of Missy (Amy Stoch), Bill and Ted’s former classmate who was a stepmother to both of them at different times. She’s now marrying Deacon (Beck Bennett), Ted’s younger brother. After the ceremony, Bill and Ted are both confronted by Ted’s police officer father, Jonathan (Hal Landon Jr.), who calls them out for being bums who have passed their laziness on to their unemployed daughters. Indeed, the guys seem to be suffering from a bit of arrested development. Not only that, they’re also co-dependent, which is never more clear than when they take their wives to a joint couples therapy session. Jillian Bell is great as the therapist who tries to be the voice of reason.
The story kicks into gear once Bill and Ted are visited by a woman from the future, Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of their former guide Rufus (the late George Carlin, who makes an appearance thanks to old footage). She takes them to meet her mother, who also happens to be the most powerful person in the universe, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor). It is the great one who orders them to fulfill their destiny by writing the aforementioned song. Bill and Ted attempt to cheat by using their time machine/phone booth to travel to different points in the recent future, only to come across increasingly dismal versions of themselves.
As fun is it to see Reeves and Winter play middle-aged versions of these beloved characters, some of best scenes involve Weaving and Lundy-Paine, as they inject even more energy in the film as Thea and Billie, who travel through time to gather a super group of musicians to back up their dads, including Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still), Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft) and and ancient Chinese musician Ling Lun (Sharon Gee). Kid Cudi joins in, and he also proves to be a time travel expert. It’s awesome to see the group come together to make music, and Billie and Thea make it look easy as they figure out how to write a song, as the process mostly involves taking sounds they like and putting them together. The whole soundtrack is most excellent, including a new track from Weezer.
“Face the Music” loses momentum at certain points, and it sometimes gets too hung up on callbacks to the previous films. However, in a time when people are mostly isolated, it is cool to see people from different countries and eras come together to save the world, even if it is just in a silly movie. Part of what makes the “Bill & Ted” series work is the fact that the humor mostly comes at the expense of the main characters, not from the people in other time periods and cultures that they encounter. They’re whole message about being excellent to each other is one that is probably even more important today than it was in 1989.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” releases Aug. 28 on VOD.