Bill & Ted Face the Music
Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Kristen Schaal, William Sandler
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…heartfelt and gut-busting…
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is an ‘80s classic and a masterclass in how to write smart comedy about dumb characters. Bogus Journey, in between its Seventh Seal ribbings, is about as metal as cinema gets (making the Grim Reaper your slave is thrash as all hell). Under any other circumstances, the idea of trying to follow up these films would have been a setup for a truly bogus time. But between Keanu Reeves popular ascendancy, and films like Halloween (2018) and Toy Story 3 proving that delayed sequels can still be righteous, now is probably the best time for this movie to exist.
Reeves and Alex Winter go beyond picking up exactly where they left off 29 years ago, as they’re arguably even better than in either predecessor. Their buddy dynamic is tight as ever, and with the series’ tradition of “other usses”, their age plays into the overall narrative, allowing them to show surprising acting range, all of which is downright hilarious. It really is a testament to just how far Reeves has come since the ‘80s, as his portrayal of Ted in all his time-displaced forms patches up one of the few sticking points of the previous films.
Likewise, returning writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson slip right back into place, serving up a story that is as much a revival of both Adventure and Journey as it is Blues Brothers meets Spierig Brothers. Half of the plot has Bill and Ted trying to bootstrap their way to saving the world, while the other has their respective daughters Thea and Billie (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine in a double-act so good, it almost eclipses the title roles) recruit the supergroup to end all supergroups.
Both halves are given just enough time each to be effective, and the way Solomon and Matheson expand into multiversal storytelling marks fresh territory while keeping in step with what came before.
Then there’s the music, which… works in a way that you won’t expect. This isn’t the glam metal worship of Adventure or the thrash existentialism of Journey. Instead, it takes into account what the modern music scene looks like (namely, how it reflects musicians being able to access basically any music to build from) and incorporates that with Bill and Ted’s ultimate goal to create a rousing showcase of the series’ central idea: music being so powerful that it can change the entire universe for the better. Musical influences shoulder-to-shoulder with their own musical influences, all to keep the music of the spheres in harmony; it’s like prog metal meets post-J Dilla beat-making, the kind of communal euphoria that really resonates in these socially-distant times.
Bill & Ted Face The Music rounds off one of the best time travel trilogies of all time with a heartfelt and gut-busting outing that refines and expands on what made its forerunners so damn fun. Oh, and definitely stick around for the end-credits scene; Rufus wasn’t kidding around when he said “they get better”.