Bill and Ted: Face the Music

After almost 30 years, Bill and Ted are back for more absurd adventures through time. Happily, the movie works and is a lot of good natured fun. The perfect prescription for this awful month.

Back in 1989, two dudes from San Dimas, California were visited by a man from the future to help them with their history report. If they fail the report their band will have to break up and that will destroy the future. In the future Bill and Ted are known as the great ones. Their music will unite the world and create a utopia. Over 30 years later, these most excellent dudes are struggling to write the song that will change the world. They are summoned to the future and told they have 75 minutes to write the song or else all space and time will collapse in on itself. They decide to travel into their future and steal the song from themselves instead of writing it themselves.

The plot doesn’t make any sense. It is just complete nonsense. Time travel has always been silly in the Bill and Ted world, but here it just doesn’t make any sense. The reason this is a problem is because there is so much plot in this movie. It relies really heavily on the mechanics of time travel. When those mechanics don’t work and don’t make sense it just bogs down the movie in needless plotting.

That aside, the movie is a pure delight. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back as the dim witted Bill and Ted. After 30 years, they still have the characters down cold. They are dumb, but in the smart way. They are immature, but they show their age. There is real heart and humor in these performances. Their chemistry and rapport is what has always carried these movies, and it still works wonderfully. As Bill and Ted travel through time and meet different versions of themselves, the actors are given the chance to explore wildly different versions of themselves. The actors get to play and it’s a joy to watch them play. One of the biggest laughs in the movie involves Bill and Ted trying to do something that they won’t remember in the future. It’s so dumb and surprising and perfect that I laughed out loud for a solid minute.

Joining them this time is their daughters. Billie and Thea, played by Brigette Lundy-Paine, and Samara Weaving. Lundy-Paine, delivers an impeccable impression of young Keanu Reeves while playing his daughter. She nails his mannerisms and inflection perfectly. Samara Weaving has the harder task as Alex Winter’s daughter. He didn’t have as grand a style as Reeves. He’s a harder one to mimic, but she nails it while adding some of her own touches to the character. They decide to help their dads by borrowing a time machine and creating a band of the greatest artists in history. This segment is classic Bill and Ted. Traveling through time, collecting historical figures. They find Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, and a very excitable Mozart among others. Just silly fun.

The short end of the stick goes to Bill and Ted’s wives. They were 15th century English princesses who left their own time to be with Bill and Ted in the first movie. They’re having problems with their marriages mostly involving how dimwitted their husbands are. They are sent on their own side quest that we never see. They just get to disappear for the rest of the movie until they can come back for the big finale. It’s a really satisfying finale, but these two could be fascinating characters who are just given nothing to do.

The movie runs the gamut of shenanigans. They travel through time. They go to the underworld. They meet up with Death, yet again played by William Sadler. Death was one of the best characters in the last Bill and Ted. Here is doesn’t have as much to do, but hearing his absurd accent and watching the grim reaper play hopscotch by himself is absolutely hilarious.

This film has a a couple of really wonderful musical scenes. Watching Mozart and Jimi Hendrix jam together is a really wonderful scene that just elevates the movie in a really fun way. The movie has a deep appreciation of music and what music means for people. It takes its time to create interesting and meaningful musical moments throughout the film.

In the end, is it a great movie? No. The plot makes no sense and there’s too much of it. Not every joke lands. The ending is telegraphed from miles away. The characters are about as deep as a puddle on the sidewalk. If you haven’t seen the previous movies, this movie won’t mean much. That said, it is a delight to see such a positive and good natured move. It loves its characters. It loves music. It just wants people to be excellent to each other and party on. It’s a simple message, but it’s perfect for a Sunday afternoon movie.

Definitely my cup of tea. B+ The movie is playing in theaters, where theaters are open. It is also available to stream from iTunes, Amazon, or wherever you get your streaming rentals.

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