Bill And Ted Face The Music

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Bill And Ted Face The Music
"This is not a film that will enable them, or you, to have a good time all of the time." | Photo: Warner Bros.

Three decades have now passed since Bill S Preston Esquire and Ted 'Theodore' Logan first embarked on an Excellent Adventure to find historical figures so that they could pass their history exam and take the first steps in their great destiny. It has been at least a decade since Keanu Reeves started talking about making a film in which they had grown older but were living in exactly the same way, having made no progress at all. Now, in 2020, Bill and Ted are historical figures. They're no closer to their destiny. The same future historians who filled their heads with dreams are beginning to panic. If the chosen ones can't create the song that unites the world, the structure of time and space itself could collapse.

Opening at the latest wedding of our heroes' former stepmother Missy (Amy Stoch), the film quickly reassembles most of its old characters and introduces two new ones - Ted's daughter Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Bill's daughter Thea (Samara Weaving), both of whom are keen to stand by their dads despite increasing disapproval from their mothers (Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) who have apparently learned that credit cards are followed by bills and are consequently working to support their families. Hal Landon Jr delivers a typically sardonic turn as Ted's dad but the main focus is on the dynamic duo's faltering faith in themselves.

Copy picture

Shortly afterwards, an emissary from the future appears, Bill and Ted are carted off to meet the Great Leader for a stern talking to, and the central plot is introduced. This is where the film departs from the tight plotting that made its predecessors so much fun, providing no clear explanations for anything an relying on a lot of timey-wimey woo. It does at least prompt Ted to come up with a typically rule-bending solution: they'll simply travel int the future and steal the all-important song from themselves after they've written it. But can they trust their future selves? And with a killer android on their tail (don't ask), will they even survive?

The bulk of the film is split between Bill and Ted's adventures in the future and Billie and Tea's adventures in the past, with the latter deciding to track down some historical figures of their own to create the perfect backing band. Unfortunately, though including more female characters in the film was a noble move, not a one of them is properly developed. It's actually non-binary actor Lundy-Paine who comes out of it best, with natural charisma which recaptures some of the old magic, but poor Weaving gets practically nothing to do and may as well be a cardboard cut-out. Their historical figures are also underwritten and seem to be there just for the sake of it.

Overall, too much of the film feels like filler, something which becomes more obvious by contrast during one inspired scene involving buckets that will have you in stitches. Perhaps it's age, but Bill and Ted have lost their energy, and no amount of acting (both have got better with time; Winter is impressive) will fill the gap. Somewhere along the line they put down their air guitars and now when they talk about music it's with a sense of duty rather than passion.

It's obvious from the start how the film will end - indeed, half the internet guessed it from the trailer - so the smart thing to do would have been to add a further twist, but instead all we get are some lights in the sky, a lot of frantic running about and a mediocre nu-metal melange that would have sounded embarrassing in the Nineties. To be fair, there are a few good moments along the way. William Sadler's Death remains a pleasure and the bond of friendship between Bill and Ted remains strong. They still abide by the noble aim of being excellent to each other (and everyone else). A charming post-credits epilogue suggest that they have every intention of partying on, dudes. But the third of the Great Ones' commandments seems to have been forgotten. This is not a film that will enable them, or you, to have a good time all of the time.

Looking back on Eighties San Dimas, one must conclude with some sadness that for Bill and Ted fans, the best place to be was right there, and the best time to be was right then.

Reviewed on: 16 Sep 2020
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Bill and Ted have yet to write the promised song that will unite the world, and with the structure of time itself now in jeopardy, they're running out of chances.

Director: Dean Parisot

Writer: Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon

Starring: Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, Kristen Schaal, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Samara Weaving, William Sadler, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Hal Landon Jr, Beck Bennett, Kid Cudi, Amy Stoch

Year: 2020

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: US, Canada, Italy

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