Review: Dudes, 'Bill & Ted Face The Music' is an endearing and most excellent adventure
Courtesy of Orion Pictures
One thing that hasn’t changed in the 29 years since we’ve seen them on screen together, is that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves have impeccable chemistry and their signature roles of Bill S Preston, Esq and Theodore Logan remain a delight. Last seen in 1991’s “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey,” these dazed and confused slackers - who, for once, aren’t stoners - are just as lovable and sweet as you remember them in their long-delayed followed-up “Bill & Ted Face the Music.”
Like Beavis and Butthead before them, Bill and Ted are a staple of late ‘80s-early-’90s nostalgia and their franchise has endured and lasted over the years. For me, I was fortunate enough to see both films at a nearby theater when I was 16. Since then, the silliness and warm hearted humor both Winter and Reeves radiate have stuck with me and I’ve been eager to find out what these two goofballs have been up too. The answer, according to director Dean Parisot and original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, is trying to write the song that’s going to unite the world.
Long gone are the days of worrying about passing history class and winning Battle of the Bands, Bill and Ted are now middle-aged, stressing about their marriages, and looking after their two daughters: Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Theodora “Thea” Preston (Samara Weaving). However, one thing that hasn’t been lost is their passion for creating excellent rock music under their coveted Wyld Stallyns label.
But the universe is still in limbo, with time and space falling apart as we speak. It’s not long before Kelly (Kristen Schaal) - daughter of Rufus, the character played by the late George Carlin - beams in with a stern warning, sending Bill and Ted back in the legendary phone booth, on a mad dash to find their future selves who they assume have already written the bop that’s going to unify mankind.
Their wives, former medieval princess, now played by Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays, are mostly regulated to the sidelines, while their daughters embark on a side mission that proves more essential to Bill and Ted’s core objective. Radiating the same aurora and silliness of their dad’s friendship, Billie and Thea are tracking down iconic music figures with their own time machine, snatching up everyone from Louis Armstrong to Jimi Hendrix to help produce the tune (if they ever need to do a spin-off with Billie and Thea, sign me up).
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” has an endearing message at its core about fighting with toxic masculinity and learning to pass the torch. I was surprised at the warmth and sweetness showcased here, expecting more of a riff on what made the previous two films successful. What helps is that Reeves and Winter - after all this time - are still dedicated to these characters. Considering the trajectory Reeves has been on since 1991, molding into a huge action movie star thanks to “Speed,” “The Matrix,” and, most recently, “John Wick,” this is a role he could have easily forgotten and yet his comedic chops are still intact and his performance is most excellent.
Likewise for Winter whose career took a slightly different path, but his admiration for the franchise beams through, along with Weaving and Paine who feel perfectly cast. You’ll even spot a cameo or two from characters we’ve missed, including William Sadler’s Death, which remains a hilarious cinematic creation. Of course, nostalgia will be the main selling point for “Face the Music” and sometimes that doesn’t always sell (looking at you “Dumb and Dumber To”), but the ironic thing is the sequel works because it doesn’t stray from the zanyness of “Excellent Adventure” and “Bogus Journey.” In 2020, we could all use some “Bill and Ted” in our lives and they don’t disappoint, dudes.
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC is now playing in select theaters and is available for rental in premium on demand formats. Check your preferred retailer.