Warning: this review contains spoilers for the film. Read at your own risk!
Nearly 30 years after the last film Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey made its way to theaters, fans have been awarded a film that brings every last bit of nostalgia tied neatly with a bow that Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Logan brought us all those years ago. When we first get introduced to Bill and Ted in Excellent Adventure, they are high school boys, struggling to balance their lives between their band, school, and life. Ted nearly gets sent off to military school, Bill has to deal with his new life with stepmom Missy (who’s almost the same age as him) while they also attempt to pass their oral history report. In Bogus Journey we see a new side to Bill and Ted, now moved in together with their girlfriends, we see them get killed by their future robot counterparts, get sent to hell, enter heaven with the Reaper in disguise, and propose to the princesses. But just when things start to go great for them, it never really lasts. Bill & Ted Face the Music is a fresh look at the same goofballs and comfort characters that we have come to know and love. The guys are now middle-aged rockstar dads that have said goodbye to their past — or so they thought.
At first, Bill and Ted are ready to give up. Ready to throw in the towel on their band to settle for lives in normal corporate jobs and fix their marriages, because they are too tired of not having written the song that will save the world. With the unraveling of time making it impossibly difficult to achieve this in a timely manner, The Great Ones of the future council have devised their own plan to handle the situation.
Now that their daughters, Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) and Billie Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine), are older, this film really brings a different dynamic and proves that they really are a mini Bill and Ted. They attempt to aid in saving the world by using Kelly’s time machine to go back in time and collect musical legends in history (this time there’s no Napoleon at the Ziggy Pig) that will help them make music samples to give to their fathers. The laundry list of figures this time around include: Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, Louis Armstrong, Ling Lun, and Grom as well as a few celebrity appearances by Dave Grohl and Kid Cudi. Fortunately, Billie and Thea are obviously the most supportive daughters ever, wanting to do whatever they need to do by any means necessary to save the world and help their fathers. Weaving and Lundy-Paine do an incredible job embodying the soul and mannerisms of their characters and what a mini Bill and Ted would be like, without being carbon copies. (Like Billie starting a new generation of phrases, “Most Luminous” is the new “Most Excellent.”)
A performance I was keen on seeing return in this film was The Reaper. William Sadler’s performance in Bogus Journey was delightful, and any time he is on screen with Bill and Ted you know you’re in for something special. The genuine banter that Sadler, Reeves, and Winter are still able to create back and forth between their characters after all these years is mesmerizing. Although Reaper’s appearance in this film is short lived, the time he’s around to tag along is well worth it. Death is the same Reaper we have come to know and love, the mischievous bass player of the Wyld Stallyns, who ended up parting ways with the band before returning in one of the most beautiful heart-to-heart conversations that Bill and Ted have ever mustered together.
Much to my surprise (and delight!) Face the Music is a completely moving piece of cinematography. Co-writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, along with director Dean Parisot create a film that truly makes sense. Keeping the guys as the same lovable and determined guys that have just aged up adds depth to the lighthearted humor throughout the entire sequence. In their quest to save the world, Bill and Ted end up realizing that the way to save the world and reality as they know it is to have everyone jam together, because, in a way, music truly does unite us all.
There are several nods to the first two films in Face the Music: the use of the phone booth (of which has a beautiful tribute to George Carlin), Kelly’s character name being the name of Carlin’s actual daughter, Kelly herself having a small role in the movie, and a mention of “STATION!” (aka the alien from Bogus Journey).
Bill and Ted are seen blasting through time to steal their song from their future selves, but finding out how far to go into the future is complicated. The VFX and wardrobe teams nailed the different versions of the duo, from prison and hippies to old age, the guys have truly never looked better. The effects didn’t just stop at the characters, though — the incredible effects in the scenes of the future and Hell itself will definitely make you let out a “Woah” of your own.
All of this to say, no matter how many words I write, I cannot do Bill & Ted Face the Music justice. The film is a must-see for all generations. It achieves the escapism that is so desperately needed in the world right now. It’s also worth noting that you’ll want to stay through to the post-credit scenes…have tissues on hand and at the ready.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is now available On Demand and in select theaters!