Title: BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, and Jillian Bell
Movie length: 1 hour 28 minutes
1989 was a banner year for comedies, paced by MAJOR LEAGUE, WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S and BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. The story of two well-meaning knuckleheads going through time to work on their history project struck a nerve with my younger self. The inevitable sequel, BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY was a big let down for me. While I continued to quote the movie as years went on, a sequel never really crossed my mind. Years later, in the midst of the most bogus year ever, BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC is the movie I never knew I needed. As a check on my nostalgic influence, I teamed up with Strand Movie Theater projectionist Peyton Ennis (Twitter handle @DarthPeyton), who wasn’t even born when the first movie came out, to review the third movie in the franchise.
Did this movie need to be made?:
Darren: In a world of cash grab reboots and nostalgia reunion movies, I had a lot of fear this movie would be like the New Dumb and Dumber movie – ok, but unable to recreate the magic of the original. I was pleasantly surprised that this movie captures the essence of the original. I also felt like this movie closed the loop on the Bill & Ted story in a way that resonated with me. While still the same goofy dudes, it was interesting to see them (sort of) grow up.
Peyton: With all of the sequels and reboots being made nowadays, I’m not surprised that this film was made. I too disliked the Dumb and Dumber sequel, and I’m grateful that Bill and Ted 3 stays true to the spirit of the original films, particularly the first one. Like Darren said, I was not alive to see the original film (or the second one) in theaters, and I’ve only gotten around to watching them recently. I really liked the first one, but not the second one. However, this film ensures that the Bill and Ted trilogy ends on a good note. I liked it!
What is the best part of the movie?
Darren: I’ve always maintained that my favorite Keanu Reeves role is Bill & Ted (with John Wick being a close second). It’s the role he seemed to have the most fun with, and I really got a kick out of seeing him slip back into the role effortlessly. He and Alex Winter maintain excellent chemistry, and their time traveling hijinks and poor attempts at problem solving were the source of most of my belly laughs.
Peyton: I agree, Keanu and Alex effortlessly slip back into their Bill and Ted personae. In this movie, I enjoyed the multiple plot lines, especially the subplot where Bill and Ted’s daughters, Billie and Thea, go on their own time travel quest. Also, even though I did not like the second film, William Sadler’s portrayal of Death/Grim Reaper was the best part of that movie and I am glad he returned for this one; he is very funny.
Do you need to see the original movie to see this?
Darren: It’s hard for me to say, having seen the original, but I think you can enjoy it without having seen the first one (or having seen it long ago). The intro does a great job setting up the movie. Bill and Ted were destined to write a song that unites the world. Unfortunately, that fate has eluded them. There are plenty of fun easter eggs and references to the first two movies, but I don’t think they are essential to understand this one. If you haven’t seen the second, you may be a bit lost when that movie is tied in. One nice thing about this movie is, while it maintains a similar plot framework to the original, it comes up with new historical figures to interact with. In that sense, missing out of the first movie doesn’t cost you anything.
Peyton: I think I agree; this film works well on its own but those familiar with the other films will find the experience more enriching and fun. This movie is a love letter to the best aspects of the other films, and fans will love it in particular. But if you’re not familiar with Bill and Ted, I still think seeing all of the cool characters and the humor can be appealing to anyone who loves a fun film.
The first movie had an amazing group of historical figures. Does this crew measure up?
Darren: While solid, I think this movie missed some opportunities. I don’t want to get into spoilers, so I’ll just say a key factor in visiting a historical figure is having someone that is known to history and thus recognizable. One character in particular didn’t really make much sense in this regard. In addition, perhaps due to availability, I felt the ‘modern’ character could have been someone a little more awesome. No offense to the person they got, but I wish they could have gotten Snoop Dogg.
Peyton: It is hard to top Abraham Lincoln and Joan of Arc for me, but I think this film does a decent job with its cast of historical characters. In the first movie, that is basically the whole plot. In this one, it is a subplot, and all of the major historical characters fall within a theme. I think it serves the story just fine but may not prove as iconic. In regards to the ‘modern’ historical character, I agree with you, I had no clue who they were and thought the whole time they were like a fictional musician from the future.
Is there an end credits scene?
Who will like this movie?
Darren: If you liked the original movie, you will love Face the Music. Winter and Reeves bring the same goofy, kind, stupidity to their roles and they maintain their great chemistry. The plot is cute, if a bit predictable. Having grown up and had a daughter myself, I appreciated where the movie put the characters. There’s really nothing objectionable about this movie, so you can see it with your family.
Peyton: I think everyone can appreciate the free-spirited, fun vibe this film gives off. It’s a nice break from the badness that is 2020 and is most definitely better than many other comedy reboots of the past decade or so. Obviously, if you are a Bill and Ted fan, you will be pleased as well.
Final thoughts and score:
Darren: Was I clamoring for a third Bill & Ted movie? No. But in a movie season wrecked by COVID-19, this was a simple pleasure that made me laugh and smile. I think it’s the perfect movie for our time (pun intended). Grade 10/10 (EXCELLENT!)
Peyton: This was the first 2020 film I had seen this year since The Invisible Man back in February. My return to the movie screen was worth it for BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC, and I agree that it is a most EXCELLENT movie to watch! I’ll give it a 9/10.