Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Bill & Ted Face The Music

29 years after they were last seen, the most excellent Bill and Ted return, and while this goofy, slightly sloppy trilogy-capping comedy doesn’t entirely work, it will hardly matter to the fans.

The follow-up to 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (itself a sequel to 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), it features an older but not much wiser Bill (Alex Winter, more a writer, director and producer these days) and Ted (the almost-canonised Keanu Reeves) trying to save the world again after almost admitting that they’re middle-aged failures. Whoa!

Like the longtime-coming Tron sequel, this only exists because the devotees oh-so-wanted it, and some heavy-hitters were involved in finally (finally!) getting it to the screen, including Bill and Ted creators/screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, director Dean Parisot and, hidden among the oodles of producers, no less than Steven Soderbergh(!).

The contemporary, now-50something Bill and Ted haven’t written that song that’ll hopefully unite the world, and their increasingly unpopular band Wyld Stallyns is something of an embarrassment. They’re still as adorably optimistic as ever, but their respective wives Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) rather want to leave them anyway, a bit of plotting that might astonish hardcore B&T lovers.

Their respective grown-up daughters Thea (Samara Weaving, niece of Keanu’s Matrix co-star Hugo) and Billie (Brigitte Lundy-Paine) still think they’re awesome though, and they get involved when Bill and Ted are summoned to the future by Kelly (Kristen Schaal) and told by The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) that they need to have the song finished by 7:17pm that night or reality will implode. And, surprisingly (or maybe not), Bill and Ted decide to hop in that time-travelling phone box (Doctor Who diehards are always upset about that) and paradoxically visit their future selves instead of actually doing the work, leaving Thea and Billie to do the Excellent Adventure trick of going into the past and picking up cautiously diverse famous musos.

As the narrative gets a little chaotic, they later somehow all wind up dead by way of an emotionally iffy robot somehow named Dennis Caleb McCoy (Anthony Carrigan), and in Hell everyone meets the Grim Reaper (William Sadler again), who’s still hurt about being essentially cast out of the Stallyns. As you would.

With nice touches (like including the late lamented George Carlin’s Rufus as a hologram), this is ultimately too messy to fully click, although, as stated, the legion of Bill and Ted acolytes out there won’t care one jot. And it’s hard not to enjoy it anyway, given that we all desperately need a laugh – any laugh – considering what a screwed-up damn year 2020 has already been (and probably will continue to be).

And, finally, keep watching after the end credits for a final gag/salute which probably ensures that there won’t be a Part 4. After all, what would they call it? Bill & Ted Have Prostate Problems?

Reviewer Rating

Bill & Ted Face The Music (PG) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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