Few lovable losers have endured the test of time like Bill S. Preston Esq. and Theodore Logan. Those are the distinguished titles of the distinctly dopey Bill and Ted, a duo that has transformed into cult figures through their simpleminded SoCal charms. Featuring dedicated performance work from Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves, alongside a plethora of off-kilter gags, both Excellent Adventure and its sequel Bogus Journey have remained beloved comedic staples long past their initial releases. After nearly 30 years of waiting, Bill and Ted are finally back on the big (and small) screen with Bill and Ted Face the Music, a warmly nostalgic revival that captures the property’s earnest charms.
Bill and Ted Face the Music follows its titular protagonists, who are now middle-aged parents still trying to create their world-saving song. With the planet hours away from ending, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) travel to the future in order to obtain the hit song from themselves, coming face to face with a future that isn’t quite as excellent as they hoped for. While they face their personal demons, their daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) travel back in time to help their dads assemble a historic band.
Shaking off any potential rust, Face the Music seamlessly conveys the alluring charms of its predecessors. Both Winters and Reeves have diverged down different career paths since Bogus Journey (Winters is a documentarian while Reeves is a marque action star), yet the duo slip back into their old-school personas with comfortable ease. The new-aged look has only made their slacker delivery more palatable, with the characters befuddling logic and good-hearted nature still generating the same uproarious laughs as before. Considering most modern comedies delineate towards a raunchy tonality, it’s refreshing to watch Bill and Ted’s comedic voice continue to embrace an innocent juvenility.
As a good sequel should Face the Music brings some welcomed additions to the table. The inclusion of Bill and Ted’s chill daughters Billie and Tea add a fresh perspective for this third entry, with Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine recreating Bill and Ted’s distinct mannerisms seamlessly while infusing their own voice into the roles. They are joined by a plethora of colorful new characters that add to the film’s zany comedic energy, including a murderous robot with deeply-seeded insecurities (Barry’s Anthony Carrigan continues to be a scene-stealer in comedic roles) and Kid Cudi who inexplicably explains the complexity of time travel. Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon deserve praise for their ability to capture the tonality and low-key charms of the originals while seamlessly incorporating fresh ideas to screen.
While the script does reinvigorate its predecessors’ comedic energy, it’s noticeably lacking from a narrative perspective. In an effort to combine Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey’s premises, the story suffers from a lingering sense of familiarity, lacking the creative spark or oddball plot beats that made the first two beloved staples. Director Dean Parisot’s sterile and flat direction suffers from a similar sense of timidness, with the film ultimately being content to simply play towards diehard fans nostalgia. The lack of ingenuity may limit the film, but it doesn’t mask the laughs and amiable energy that’s on display throughout.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is a most excellent tribute to the offbeat and infectious energy of its predecessors. If this is the character’s swan song, it’s great to see them walk off on a positive note.
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