Film Review: Bill & Ted Face The Music

bill & ted face the musicBill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure came along at the perfect time for me, I was a fifteen year old kid who’d adored Doctor Who but had tired of the mostly po-faced nature of it’s later years, but then this very daft yet very beguiling comedy hit our screens that actually had fun with the whole time travel concept. Bogus Journey followed a couple of years later and was almost as delightful, and I hoped one day a third film might be made.

I didn’t expect to have to wait twenty nine years for it however, and after all this time, despite original writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson returning with most of the cast, I presumed it could never live up to expectations. Satisfying trilogy’s which improve with each and every film are ridiculously hard to pull off too, with Toy Story 1, 2 and 3 (but definitely not 4)  being the only example in all of cinema history (well, fine, there may be two or three other examples, but that’s about it), and sure, there have still been some fun third films in a series but rarely are they anything even close to a classic.

And yet Bill & Ted Face The Music almost is. Admittedly I’d lowered my expectations as much as I could going in, especially after I’d heard that many a publication had given it a lukewarm reception, but though there are a couple of minor issues that prevent it from being up there with the very best comedies it is an enormous amount of fun, full of charm, inventive plotting, silly scenes, and a bunch of characters it’s impossible not to adore, just like the previous two movies.

This time around despite their best efforts Bill and Ted still haven’t written the song that is supposed to unite the world and bring about peace on Earth, and reality is starting to fall apart, with people being plucked out of their timelines and thrust in to others. In the future the Great Ones are distinctly worried and so give Bill and Ted seventy eight minutes to write the song that will save reality, but our heroes don’t know quite how to do that given all of their failed attempts over the past three decades. But then they come up with a plan – to visit themselves in the future, and just borrow / steal the song.

While this is going on the leader of the Great Ones believes that the world might be saved if Bill and Ted are killed and so orders a robot (Barry star Anthony Corrigan) to murder them, while Rufus’s daughter Kelly (a mostly restrained Kristin Schaal) tries to prevent that from happening and so travels back to the present day. Thanks to that we get the second main plot strand as Bill and Ted’s daughter’s Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) are able to borrow her time machine, as they want to help their father’s save the day by putting together a band featuring some of the most notable musicians through history.

It is admittedly slightly overstuffed for what’s discounting credits only an eighty two minute movie, and one plotline with Bill and Ted’s wives Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) and Joanna (Jayma Mays) is given short shrift, and which should have either been expanded upon a fair deal or cut completely. This is the only issue I have with the film though, as otherwise it’s extremely fun witnessing Bill and Ted meet their mostly despicable future selves several times over while Billie and Thea persuade the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart among others to join the band, and as with the other two films, life is never as simple as they may hope.

It moves at a beautifully fast rate, is packed with very funny lines and ideas, brings back a lot of the supporting characters from the previous films in an enchanting or amusing way (Missy’s current relationship being an especially fun moment), while the newcomers are superb too. Lundy-Paine and Weaving really deserve a huge amount of credit for capturing their famous father’s characteristics while still feeling like their own unique characters, and they’re just as endearing as Bill and Ted.

On that front, many had concerns from the trailer that while Alex Winter was still perfect as Bill, Keanu Reeves may have lost his way a little as Ted. Thankfully this isn’t true in the slightest though, both Reeves and Winter have returned to these roles as if they’d never been away, and there’s not a second where it feels like they aren’t Bill and Ted, albeit a very slightly maturer versions. That isn’t a bad thing either, it just means there’s a little less sexual innuendo, and most importantly their love for each other, and life, hasn’t been diminished in any way.

I’m still a little in shock as to how much fun this is, the direction from Galaxy Quest’s Dean Parisot is playful yet tight, with there not being a single second that I’d cut from the movie, the soundtrack is a fantastic one, the celebrity cameos (from real life famous types and historical figures) are cute and never feel forced, and best of all is the amount of jokes that hit home, and hit home hard. It’s a film which ends the trilogy in a fantastic fashion, and there’s no need for a fourth Bill & Ted now, as these three films tell a unique, hilarious and extraordinarily lovable tale perfectly.

★★★★1/2

Alex Finch.
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