Bill & Ted serves as the conduit of positive energy needed within a world of totally bogus negativity. Watching “Bill & Ted Face The Music” on streaming reminds me of when I was a kid watching the first two films on home VHS. Although I would have loved to have seen the sequel that could have saved the cinemas in the theatre, Bill & Ted always seemed more fitting for the smaller screen. Serving as comfort food, “Bill & Ted Face The Music” doesn’t miss a beat in its nostalgic style. Everything fits in the plot overly conveniently; elements of the story are rushed to the finish line, and a singular note defines each character, and the movie is the better for it. During the late 80s to early 90s, movies were a little more pleasant. Nothing was overly articulated or morally ambiguous; they just happened.
B&T3 could have taken a far more contemporary angle with the picture, drawing itself in a quasi-realistic angle. We could have seen Bill & Ted as two failed divorced fathers, or their daughters don’t appreciate them. The men could have gone their separate ways but have to reunite in order to save the world with their music. Maybe they could have thought they already saved the world, so they grew tired of music, settling into a mundane office job lifestyle. All of those avenues could have been easily explored, which would have killed the original films’ exuberant cheesy energy. Luckily, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, the original films’ writers, knew that wouldn’t be the correct route to go.
Although technologically contemporary, the film has the spirit of the era it was set in without feeling out of place. The plot is just silly enough to work as a respectful conclusion to a trilogy that I didn’t think would live beyond my childhood. The song at the end of “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” didn’t reunite the world, so it’s now up to Bill & Ted to write the perfect piece within a matter of hours. With a literal race to the clock, the men try to steal the music from their future selves. Intercutting with their plotline is the path of the daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Bridget Lundy-Pain). They travel to the past to gather all of the world’s most excellent musicians to help their fathers write the best song ever to be produced.
Splicing between the two points in time feels like the appropriate derivation of the first two parts of “Back To The Future” (the original Bill & Ted’s inspiration) Where the guys are in the future (Back To The Future Part II) The girls travel to the past (Back To The Future) whoa. The film falters a bit on the performances. Keanu Reeves seems to have grown far beyond his Ted Theodore Logan role over the years of intentionally trying to distance himself from it. Now with Reeves reprising the character after 29 years, he looks uncomfortable. It’s as if he sounds constipated trying to annunciate every syllable with his much younger self’s cadence. On the other hand, Alex Winter is just at home, as if he’s never really left that role, probably because as an actor he never did. When it comes to his career beyond acting, he’s done reasonably well for himself as a documentary filmmaker.
The daughters are enjoyable to watch—a rarity amongst new characters. Focussing so much on them was a risky move considering audiences are paying their money to see Bill & Ted, not the supporting cast as much when it comes to nonhistorical figures. Bridget Laundy-Pain as Ted’s daughter Billie is the perfect female avatar of a younger Keanu Reeves. She whips her head, smiles, looks, speaks, and moves just like he used to. Samara Weaving as Bill’s daughter Thea leaves much to be desired. Not to say she’s terrible in the role, but she doesn’t encompass her father’s persona like BLP does, which leaves a visibly lacking performance.
There’s no talking about a Bill & Ted movie without mentioning its supporting cast of wacky characters. The first film hit its highest marc with laughs above all three, with historical figures playing off each other’s known traits. Here we don’t see standout moments like Joan of Arc teaching a dance class or Napoleon eating ice cream. Okay, eating ice cream wasn’t a known trait of Napoleon, but it was still adorable. The most we witness is a therapeutic pow-wow with Death (William Sadler) and George Washington randomly appearing on a therapist’s couch. Every other figure primarily serves as lifeless background displays. If the movie wasn’t so focused on the main characters, this could have been a much bigger problem than it is.
Bill & Ted was never an earth-shattering franchise. It was a movie that existed on inspiration from time travel comedies that came out right before it. The first film was a funny but choppy time travel romp. The second movie was an unusual homage to things that only cinephiles would notice. The finale is a loving tribute to both films that doesn’t overstay its welcome with needless sentimentality. The closest B&T3 gets to being weepy is when the gentlemen visit their elderly selves; even then, it’s poking fun at getting all teary-eyed. With a 29 year wait, is “Bill & Ted Face The Music” worth it? A little bit.
I wasn’t expecting anything incredible, just hopefully something better than “Bogus Journey” while funny enough to hold its own. For that, the movie does a most bodacious job. It’s comforting to reunite with the Wyld Stallyns. As the world suffocates in cynicism, it’s refreshing to view a movie that sees the best in people. Moving beyond the screen, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have proven to be as gracious as their characters in real life. Be excellent to each other may be a comedic line, but it’s one we should aspire too.