By Laurie Coker
Some thirty-one years after their “excellent adventure” and nearly thirty years post “bogus journey”, Bill and Ted are back facing the music. Reprising their roles as goofy rockers, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter stop at nothing to be Bill and Ted – awkward and seemingly clueless and they do an excellent job, but three decades doesn’t bode well. Original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon along with director Dean Parisot miss several great opportunities to make Bill and Ted Face the Music fun and memorable. It is not a total wash, but it fails to measure up to the first in what is now a trilogy.
The film opens with a slightly funny wedding reception – Missy (Ted and Bill’s former stepmom), marrying one of their brothers – where they are playing some strange experimental music with bagpipes and throat singing and a variety of other instruments. They are no longer the Wyld Stallions of the past, but rather a washed-up duo who are married to princesses and have twenty-something daughters. Ted’s daughter is Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Bill’s is Thea (Samara Weaving). The guys are charged with saving reality (and the world) by writing a song, but they are not alone in this adventure. They are joined by their daughters, Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Mozart to name a few.
Honestly, there are some fun moments, but Reeves and Winter are, frankly, old and watching them play goofball, stoners, with all the squirrely mannerisms of their younger versions is painful. Reeves looks more like Alan Rickman playing Snape from Harry Potter than himself and both actors look waxy and stiff – distracting to say the least. Fresh faces like those of Lundy-Paine, Weaving, Kristen Schaal, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi help, but the brunt of the action follows Bill and Ted as they visit past and future selves trying to locate the song. Various-aged versions are equally tough to watch.
In fairness, the film does pay homage to the original and stays true to the haphazard and sporadic storytelling style. The addition of a killer robot and a hologram of Rufus don’t really advance the story much but visuals are cool. Fans of the first films will likely be more tolerant of the messiness. Matheson and Solomon earnestly sell the messages that we humans need to get our act together and that music might be one way to unite us, but the delivery is blatantly heavy-handed and as a result these themes come across as forced and trite.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is not “most triumphant” but it isn’t “Heinous” either. There are a few comic gems amidst the clutter and idiocy. The younger Bill and Ted entertained far more excellently than do old and older Bill and Ted. Their daughters actually play the past versions better and still they annoy too. Face the Music earns a C- the grade book. Too many missed opportunities keep it from better and gracious 88 minute run time keeps it from worse.