I didn’t realize until recently that I had never actually seen a Bill & Ted movie. Sean made me watch their Excellent Adventure knowing this new movie was coming down the pipes. I guess Bill & Ted are just so much a part of popular culture that I was familiar enough with the characters to believe I’d watched it. But actually watching it made me realize it’s such a bizarre trip I never would have forgotten it. We never got around to the second movie and I wasn’t too bothered by that but then Sean read a review of the new one that hinted it revisited the first two and felt maybe he should have pushed harder. Lest I not be able to follow the narrative complexities of Bill & Ted Face The Music. Except the sequel’s rental price was twice the going rate. Clearly someone planned a clever little monopoly. I opted to have Sean read me a synopsis instead and to this day I 90% believe he was pranking me. If two surfer dudes travelling through time in a phone booth in order to ace their homework was weird (and it was!), their Bogus Journey is even more unbelievable, being chased by robot versions of themselves sent to kill them from the future, winding up dead, and playing Battleship with Death himself. At least that’s what Sean would have me believe. I realize Bogus is right in the name, but this still sounds so weird it can possibly be a movie. Right? It sounds like Sean married the plots of Terminator and Little Nicky and thought I wouldn’t notice. Except that plot is referenced in the new film. So if this is a hoax, it’s pretty elaborate.
Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are still the best of friends. They’ve named their daughters after each other and bought side by side homes. Their wives, the two princesses they brought back in the first film, find this a little excessive, but Bill and Ted have been charged with writing the song that will unite and save the world, and in the face of that you can hardly complain. Except it’s been nearly 30 years since we last saw them and the song has still not been written. They’ve had ups and downs in their career and now they’re middle aged men playing weddings and bar mitzvahs. They still haven’t fullfilled their destiny but the future calls – it’s Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of Rufus – and tells them to light a fire under their butts. And it sends another robot for extra insurance. Luckily their teenage daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) have a little more hustle, and they probe their fathers into action.
Bill & Ted Face The Music is not a ‘good’ movie. If you weren’t a fan of the first two, this one’s not going to convert you. But on the same token, if you were/are a fan, you’re getting exactly what you hoped for. Keanu and Winter slide back into their roles like they’ve never really left them. It’s a little unnerving to see those characters reach middle age and still be acting like dumb teenagers. They haven’t done a lot of personal growth in the last 30 years, which is frustrating if you’re married to them, but satisfying if you’re simply a fan. Weaving and Lundy-Paine are a little less consistent. Lundy-Paine inhabits Keanu even better than he himself does. She’s got Ted down cold and never blunders, but Weaving is comparatively low-key and thus feels out of place.
However, it must be said that Sean, a fan, giggled throughout. And of course Keanu is as watchable as ever. Lately he’s done a lot of action stuff, with a few comedic cameos, so this full-length feature really hits the comedy spot and it’s nice to see him having fun. He’s still got it. And he’s still got an easy chemistry with Winter. Theirs are not the only familiar faces you’ll see in the film. This isn’t going to unite or save the world but it’s a bit of nostalgic goodness in an otherwise crap year for film. It’s the bit of levity we deserve and nostalgia we crave. And you just can’t go wrong with Keanu.