‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Amplifies A Most Excellent Franchise – Review
The first two Bill and Ted films are relics of their time, encapsulating pop culture and America in the late 80s/ early 90s. The titular characters are subtly complex- bright-eyed Southern Californian teenagers who are tasked with saving the world as we know it. With both films being sleeper hits of that time and becoming ingratiated into pop culture, it has been almost three decades since we’ve last seen the pair. Finally, in the year 2020, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return as the Wyld Stallions when the world needs them most.
In Bill & Ted Face the Music, the title tells us what we need to know about our protagonists. Decades, after we’ve last seen them with their music careers, tanked, their marriages falling apart, they’re struggling to cope with the reality of adulthood and they can’t seem to find the right tune. These characters still have yet to write the song that will unite the world, and the world around them is crumbling. In today’s day and age, it would seem difficult to revive these two characters because of how optimistic they are about the world around them, but this film does a great job to highlight how unsustainable the naivety that Bill and Ted have can be, but still focuses on how important it is to be positive.
We’re reunited with them at a low point in their lives, as they still hold onto the same positive outlook. They’re approached by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), their old mentor Rufus’ (the late George Carlin) daughter. While they’re at their lowest, they’re given 77 minutes to write the song that will stop the destruction of space and time.
With the same writers and most of the same ensemble returning, they’re able to recapture the same hopeful magic from the first two films and amplify it to stay relevant to this generation and make this zany adventure make sense. Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson accomplish this with an intelligent, self-aware script that makes it simple to follow every time jump and back. The homages to previous characters honor the past films, and the addition of new characters further this story. The energy and performances stay strong throughout this entire film, especially with Bill and Ted’s daughters, Theodora “Ted” (Brigette Lundy-Payne) and Wilhelmina “Billie” (Samara Weaving). Through their relationship with their fathers, we get a chance to see a side of Bill and Ted that we never have before. The outlandish premise is grounded by two men who, whilst trying to save the world, are even more focused on saving their relationships with their family.
Music has always been a tool to further the narrative of Bill & Ted, but it’s never been used in this way. The entire story is driven by their attempts to create this song. They are insecure about their present selves and go forwards in time to “steal” it from future selves (who, they believe, have probably already written it). Whilst doing so, their daughters join Kelly to assemble an epic band uniting major legendary musicians (from Jimi Hendrix to Mozart) from all throughout time, all over the world, with entirely different backgrounds to help their fathers create something epic. Giving their daughters this major role passes the mantle off to a new generation and shows that we’re stronger together. Teamwork makes an impossible task seem achievable.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is a delightful, hopeful film that provides the viewer with an outlet to escape the real world and join our characters on a most excellent adventure. Maturing the themes from the previous installments, this is a wonderful addition to the celebrated cult classic franchise. With everything happening in the world, this film provides a timeless reminder to be excellent to each other.