As the pop culture bred kids of the 80s and 90s have aged throughout the years we’ve seen a definitive need for people of my demographic to hold on to the entertainment from our youths. We’ve seen countless remakes and reboots over the years that tap into childhood nostalgia such as the Transformer films, about ten different iterations on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and even musical acts like Rick Astley have managed to crawl back into todays mainstream through memes. One of the more interesting approaches to this deep-seeded desire to relive the past have been the sequels to throw-back entertainment that retain the same characters, actors and continuing plot points (such as Star Wars). It’s permitted us to ask the question “what would these characters be like today?” when thinking back on some of our favorite shows and films, and it is the core of the entire film that I’m reviewing today, Bill & Ted Face the Music.
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return to their respective roles in the third chapter of the Bill & Ted saga nearly 30 years since the last film. When this long rumored and requested sequel was finally confirmed to be in production the first question I had was “what does a 50 year old Bill & Ted look like”? There were two obvious directions they could go here. Either Bill & Ted grew up, got jobs, and became normal boring people like the rest of us, or they grew up, got jobs and stayed awesome. I’m happy to inform you that Bill & Ted are indeed most triumphant as the 50-something year old actors portray their characters with the same zest and youthful exuberance that they did in the 80s and 90s. Alex Winter in particular, as Bill, looks and emotes as if he never left this character and it is a pure joy to see him at work in this film.
The story of Face the Music finds Bill & Ted as husbands and fathers still bonded together over their love of music, each other and the duty to fulfill their destinies. The previous two films were all about these two California kids who are visited by a guide from the future to help them succeed in their adventures towards their ultimate destiny to unite the world through their music. But this latest film finds them well past their prime and somehow still having not written the song that brings harmony to humanity. It is most non-triumphant and at the start of the film you can see how Ted especially is growing tired of trying to live up to something that he’s been expecting to happen his entire life.
When a new visitor from the future arrives however, Bill & Ted discover that there is no longer any time left to write the world’s perfect song, something that is quite hilarious in a movie that is all about time travel. They only have a few hours to write the song that unites the world otherwise life as they know it will end. Bogus. Rather than actually putting in the work of writing the song, Bill & Ted decide to travel to the future and steal the song from their future selves in order to save the world. And once their daughters, Little Billie and Little Thea catch wind of the trouble their fathers are in, they embark on a parallel journey of their own to help their dads on their quest to save the world. A quest that will take them through time, alternate realities and even to the very gates of hell. It is a silly premise riddled with holes that even after watching make it difficult to discern what exactly the rules are for Bill & Ted time travel, but thankfully it doesn’t matter because as I’ve said before the entire foundation of this film is to catch up with our good friends Preston and Logan.
And we won’t be just revisiting with our heroes either. The filmmakers have brought back many of the series cast in roles of various size. We see Ted’s father still trying to get him to grow up even though he’s in his 50s, the Grim Reaper returns as the jilted bassist who was kicked out of the band since last we saw him, even Missy makes an appearance in a hilarious follow-through to the running gag of her being a man-chasing hottie. This is what’s great about Face the Music, the movie taps directly into your love of the series and delivers not only a nostalgia-fueled trip through time, but introduces new ridiculous characters in the spirit of this franchises love for absurdity. One of the new standouts in the cast is a robot assassin from the future with a confidence complex named Dennis Caleb McCoy. Absolute silliness that had me rolling throughout.
Ultimately Bill & Ted will satisfy fans of the series but that’s probably all. The movie throws you right into the adventure relying on your familiarity with the series to carry the laughs and charm. It is an absolute joy to be able to see Reeves and Winter and it’s the kind of movie where you can see the joy and love that was poured into it. It truly is an amazing thing when a film like this comes along to remind us of what it was like to have exciting adventures that make us smile, and to be with characters you’ve laughed with through the years. Bill & Ted Face the Music ended up being everything I wanted it to be, despite its silliness, plot holes and reliance on nostalgia. Just like life itself, it is a most excellent adventure.