BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC
After many years of being stuck in development, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter finally delivered their much talked-about third installment in the Bill & Ted franchise. Bill & Ted Face The Music was released in theaters and on VOD simultaneously but, due to the COVID pandemic, it did not make a big splash at the box-office, though it received some praise critically.
The first two Bill & Ted movies were fun, tongue-in-cheek stoner comedies on a comically huge scale and they definitely made their mark back in the day, even spawning an animated series. One can still understand the nervousness of a studio being tasked with producing a sequel, though, as the films, especially Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, were mild successes financially and mostly live today in the nostalgia of those who grew up with them. A new film, as opposed to a full-on remake, would be one for the fans, a pet project for the two leads.
Bill & Ted Face The Music checks in with Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) in middle age as they continue their struggle to write the song that will unite the world. A lot has changed since we last met them: they each have a daughter, Rufus (played by George Carlin in the originals) is gone, their band Wyld Stallyns broke up and their wives are getting tired of their desperate quest which, they feel, has kicked their marriages to the number 2 spot. When Rufus' daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) comes to meet Bill and Ted from the future, their lives once again take a most, well, bogus detour.
Bill and Ted are promptly informed that the fabric of reality itself is about to break completely unless they can unite the world within a short amount of time. As historical figures are randomly beamed into present day and vice versa, with landmarks disappearing and reappearing all over the place, it becomes up to Bill and Ted to hop into their trusty telephone booth and fast forward to the future where they hope they can steal the world-saving song from themselves. This proves to be a challenge since their future selves aren't exactly what they expected.
Meanwhile, their daughters (played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine) also go on a journey through time trying to bring some of the best musicians back to help perform the song including Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and Louis Armstrong. Along the way, we touch base with Death (William Sadler) in Hell who is reluctant to help due to his unceremonious exit from the Wyld Stallyns years prior and meet a robot created by The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) in the future who is tasked with destroying our heroes.
The film does a surprisingly good job of taking what made both films before it so enjoyable, putting it into this movie and making it work with the new story. The obvious retconning of Bogus Journey's ending, however, may infuriate some. Face The Music does have its share of issues, the kind that most reboots or late sequels often suffer from: the split focus between the main characters and a new generation, beloved characters not present, references agogo, celebrity cameos, a familiar story.
Granted, this sequel does have all that to deal with but, considering, this is a movie with a lot of charm and, clearly, a lot of love for the franchise. William Sadler is as brilliant as ever as Death, once again effortlessly stealing the show, while Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter have a ball reprising their classic characters, wearing all kinds of ludicrous costumes and heavy make-up. The plot may just be a mix of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey ramped up to 11 but it all blends together a lot better than you'd expect and it certainly has the right spirit.
Much like Pee-wee's Big Holiday, which was released many years after the franchise's last movie, Face The Music overcomes its "sequel-itis" by being every bit as fun and goofy as the films before it thanks to a funny script, an engaging story and a motivated, lovable cast you are excited to see together again.