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
What it is: The long-in-development third chapter of the adventures of Theodore “Ted” Logan and William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq.: BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC sees the boys-to-men having to, once again, save the entire universe from destruction. This time, they have 78 minutes to produce a song or all of reality will be destroyed. Under pressure, you could say…
What Dan Thought: Going into the movie, I was at least hoping that it would serve as a worthy follow-up to 1991’s BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY …and I am pleased to announce that it was, and then some. The recent Comic-Con@Home panel made me excited for the movie – thankfully, it’s risen to that challenge.
What Leonard Thought: If God gave rock’n’roll to you, and if he had any ounce of a sense of humour to him (which, if 2020 is demonstrating anything, he may not necessarily have!), the Celestial DJ would no doubt give it the faces, the swagger and the easy attitude of Bill and Ted. The characters may not have a serviceable braincell between them but thankfully you don’t have to fully engage yours to appreciate the joyful energy of this movie.
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!
To the plot of BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC, that which it is: the boy’s band Wyld Stallyns were set up in the previous films (by returning franchise scribes Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon) as being the rawk outfit that will play the concert that will bring together humanity and set us all on the path to unity and eternal happiness.
Safe to say, the plan hasn’t exactly gone as expected with the chaps, twenty years later, minus their band, missing a beat and nowhere close to having a humanity-bonding song, maybe even very close to losing the perfect lives – and princesses – they’ve brought through history and found for themselves.
When the fabric of reality starts unravelling at the edges and the forces that be from the future insist, nay demand, that Wyld Stallyns fulfil their destiny in order to set things right, Bill and Ted find themselves once again hopping, skipping and jumping through time in their phone booth to get the needle back on the ol’ cosmic record.
Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back and displayed as two plaid-shirt wearing men that have seen the better sands of time flow by – a little bit chunky in places, which must have been a deliberate choice, seeing as Reeves has been seen in quite lean, muscular form in recent efforts such as JOHN WICK.
Here, the vibe of two former manchildren, clutching at the burden of helming a band that will ultimately unite humanity, is wonderfully portrayed by two actors, especially Winter, who seemingly can tap into that attitude with consummate ease. And do so with that trademark energy and brainless fun which made the original films so appealing, which is handy as Bill and Ted are front and centre, barely leaving the screen, even for a few minutes.
That manic energy trickles down the genepool and into the characters of Bill and Ted’s daughters, Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Logan and Theodora ‘Thea’ Preston and the two actresses who played their daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving, accordingly) have nailed the mannerisms of their on-screen fathers perfectly. Lundy-Paine in particular: they are an actress who I will be paying close attention to in the future, purely off the back of their performance.
The supporting cast includes Jayma Mays as Princess Joanna Preston (Bill’s wife) and Erinn Hayes as Princess Elizabeth Logan (Ted’s wife), as well as William Sadler who is fantastically funny and magnetic in his return as Death, and indeed, in a rare occurrence for a sequel of this nature, most if not all of the original movies’ supporting roster are back in place (Hal Landon Jr. and Amy Stoch fill out Ted and Logan’s brilliantly convoluted family tree).
Newcomers to the series include comedienne Kristen Schaal as Rufus’ daughter Kelly, comedy legend Holland Taylor as The Great Leader and Barry and Gotham actor Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy, a brilliantly named killer robot cyborg: all terrific additions to the cast. Of course, Rufus – played by the late, great George Carlin – had such a pivotal role in the first two movies and they have found a fabulous way to both properly feature and also honour Carlin in the movie, which was very nicely done.
Of course, since Bill and Ted have to create a song to save the world, it’s handy that the soundtrack and score that Mark Isham has brought together is terrific, with some of the bands contributing to the soundtrack including the likes of Weezer (who recently released a video for their song, ‘Beginning Of The End’), Big Black Delta, Mastodon, and Lamb of God.
Kid Cudi not only provides soundtrack duties but also appears in the movie in a sizeable role as part of the mission to save the universe, and a very well known current musician appears as themselves in a quick cameo – let’s leave that nugget hanging as to not ruin the surprise!
There’s a fantastic concept set out at the beginning of the film that the conclusion comes at the close of a determined countdown and, unlike some other films, the constant checking-in with how long is left is actually time-accurate, which means the film is given a real sense of forward momentum. BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC is a film made up of moments and set-pieces, in the absence of any substantial plot – as deep as a puddle, this isn’t a film which you’re going to walking away in deep philosophical discussion.
But that’s not the aim of the film, celebrating that fun and exuberance of strapping on the wellies and jumping around in the puddle. It’s just a fun blast without any flab or waste, a movie which doesn’t outstay its welcome: in and out, done and done, and designed with the simple mission to put a huge, nostalgic grin on your face – which it accomplishes with ease.
Dan’s Grade: A. The movie felt like a perfect follow-up to the second movie and was terrific from the opening scene to the final credits.
Leonard’s Grade: B+. It’s not necessarily rock’n’roll – this is pure disco, baby! …FACE THE MUSIC may not perfect and perhaps it could have done with some more depth than a disposable pop single – but it’s made up by the biggest heart and joy by everyone involved. It’s an infectious groove and you won’t help but be tapping your toes to its beat by the close.
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC will be released to theaters as well as video-on-demand on August 28th. International dates and methods of distribution are yet to be announced.