It is finally here! After over a decade in development, Bill S. Preston, Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan are back for another adventure! After taking both an Excellent Adventure to ace their history test, and a Bogus Journey to hell and back to play a song that would save the world, Bill and Ted now must Face the Music! That’s right, audiences now get to see them as washed-up rock stars, struggling in their marriages, constantly stuck in the past, and with their daughters, Billie and Thea, following in their footsteps and going nowhere.
But that’s not all that happens! After playing yet another subpar gig, they get a visit from the future by Kelly, daughter of their previous messenger, Rufus. She tells them that the Universe is in danger, and that they must write and play a new song that will unite the world and save life as we know it, and in only 78 minutes! One might be wondering why they need to when they already played their world-uniting song at the end of Bogus Journey. Well, according to Kelly, that particular song hasn’t been played yet. Now Bill and Ted must enter the phone booth once again to try and find that song somewhere in the future, all while their daughters help them in recruiting historical figures to form the world’s greatest band to play it.
The Bill and Ted movies have an interesting vibe, because they cannot be compared to any others. The titular characters find themselves in the most absurd situations involving time travel and the fate of the Universe, and all the two care about is becoming rock stars. While these films are mostly silly and feel like a product of the times, they are still light hearted and possess a sense of enthusiasm that far outweighs their shortcomings. Even the under-appreciated Bogus Journey managed to avoid being derivative of the first film of the series and found interesting ways to continue the story, all while throwing even more weirdness into the mix. How often do you see a film where two guys fight “terminator” versions of themselves with their own robots built by a Martian named “Station,” all while Death himself is along for the ride? Not many! Altogether, the series is dumb, but fun.
In regards to Face the Music, what is nice about the film is that it not only compliments the first two films, but it also refashions the entire trilogy into a satisfying experience. Regarding Bill and Ted, themselves, Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are practically perfect in these roles, and manage to remain the heart and soul of this series. Seeing the two of them together in a movie again is like seeing your favorite band take to the stage after a few decades. Sure, they may not have much of that youthful energy anymore, but their unbreakable positive spirit reminds audiences of why they are so beloved. Even when we see future versions of them as convicts, prisoners, and senior citizens in this film, they do not lose one ounce of their appeal.
Everything in Face the Music feels in tune with the previous two films, including its tone. It is not gut-busting hilarious, but it is sweet and sincere, and best of all, simple. Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who have written all three films, succeed once again in keeping the story straightforward, something many modern-day screenwriter should take a few notes on. There are some cheesy green screen moments in some scenes, but in fairness, the Bill and Ted films did not always have great effects. So points for consistency!
Speaking of consistency, fans may speculate as to why Bill and Ted have daughters, when at the end of Bogus Journey, the children were introduced as lil’ Bill and lil’ Ted. Matheson and Solomon, however, have found a clever trick to cover that up, naming them both Thea and Billie. It is a bold move that pays off, because Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine are wonderful as Thea and Billie, respectively, and have excellent chemistry with each other. It is almost as if you are seeing an extension of Bill and Ted that does not feel like treading old waters.
It cannot be overstated how much heart there is in Face the Music, because this feels like a film the actors and crew wanted to make. In addition, the climax of the film brings the series full circle. It is an ending so grand and enthusiastic, that it will bring smiles to people’s faces, and if that it is not enough, the end credits sequence will also melt their hearts. Even if this all seems too good to be true, to borrow a quote from the film, “Sometimes things don’t make sense until the end of the story.”
A substantial amount of time may have passed, but time is never a problem for Bill and Ted! Bill and Ted Face the Music will not break any grounds, it won’t win Oscars, and it most likely won’t be a box-office hit (mostly due to the times we are currently living in), but it doesn’t need to. All it has to do is give fans what they want, maintain its charm, and compliment the series, and in all of those areas, it succeeds. More importantly, the movie stuck to its own mantra, to be excellent and party on, dude!