Like, woah… Of all the belated comebacks made by cinematic characters over the last few years, surely the return of the eternally upbeat slackers known to the world as Bill S. Preston Esquire and “Ted” Theodore Logan came the most out of left field. Their couplet of cult movies which told the stories of the two witless band members (collectively known as the WYLD STALLYONS *cue air guitar riff*) tumbling through time and space in order to secure their future as the duo that writes the perfect song rhat unites the world into a utopian paradise are fondly remembered by those charmed by their eternally good natured bufoonery – but how can something that’s SO retro for this day and age possibly make any sense to an audience nearly THIRTY YEARS after their last boadacious cinematic outing? Even with the presence of the warming glow of the pop culture deity of wholesome goodness known as Keanu Reeves returning to a much beloved role, surely this is too much as task for even Bill & Ted to overcome.
The world has moved on since Bill & Ted were charged with saving the future with the power of music but unfortunately Bill & Ted haven’t. Still stuck in their big hearted, but clueless ways despite having their music career collapse around them, the most righteous dudes are still plugging away despite now having the middle-aged pressures of marriages and kids to think about. Ted’s dad is STILL on at him to sort his shit out, the boy’s marriages to their princess sweethearts are slowly falling apart and they are yet to pen the song that unites the world – on the flip side, their carbon copy daughters Theodora and Whilhelmena worship them and have absorbed a encyclopedia’s worth of music knowledge a the feet of their father’s most righteous expertise; but fate soon comes knocking at their door in the form of Katie, the daughter of their guide from the future, Rufus. It seems that Bill & Ted’s failure to write that song is causing time as we know it to fold in on itself which, obviously, is incredibly heinous, so our rocking heroes set off on another adventure through time with the aim to steal the perfect song from their futures selves after they’ve already written it (“How’s that stealing, if you steal it from yourselves, dude?”), but obstacles place themselves in their path in the form of a hideously tight time frame, a killer robot from the future with crippling self confidence issues and the fact that the futher back Bill & Ted goes, the more bitter and twisted their future selves become.
Ironically for a movie about failed rock stars, Bill & Ted Face The Music turns out to be not much more than a greatest hits package which may be a diverting trip for long time fans but may very well leave newbies wondering what all the fuss is about.
Firstly, let’s focus on the most excellent, and it’s legitimately nice to see these guys back together again. Reeves onscreen resurgence thanks to the shooty John Wick epics continues at pace and he even gets to have another crack at the English accent after Bram Stoker’s Dracula thanks to a more pretentious future version of Ted and it’s incredibly welcome to see Alex Winter back onscreen after a directing career (dig out his truly mental comedy Freaked for an anarchic treat). The whole film is a nice and positive, breezy experience which features the odd stand out character or concept which bring the gentle chuckles at a pleasing rate with both Dennis The Android’s excruciating social awkwardness and Bill & Ted’s daughters attempting to recruit the ultimate band scoring high marks.
However, as the film goes on it becomes apparent that none of the situations that our protagonists find themselves in have been thought out any further than the initial concept and many scenes simply stop without a satisfying payoff. Such set ups as our clueless rockers attending each other’s marriage counselling and the various different incarnations of their future selves are trotted out in high concept sketches that don’t seem to have any kind of punchline. Seeing our lovable duo as hulking, ‘roided up convicts, liberally coated in prison ink is initially a hilarious image, but the scene doesn’t go anywhere – well, anywhere funny that is. The same can be said of the return of William Sadler’s Czechoslavakian accented, fan favorite Grim Reaper (a major highlight of Bogus Journey) is initially exciting but soon runs out of steam as the film doesn’t actually give him anything to do except lament on his failed solo career consisting entirely of him playing base.
Further giving Bill & Ted Face The Music a sort of made for TV feel is some early scenes boasting some surprisingly shitty CGI, especially during the moments set in the shockingly badly rendered utopic future.
However, the movie’s sheer sense of good natured-ness manages to carry the whole thing through in a sweet and positive way (God knows we could use a little blind positivity these days) and there’s plenty to enjoy, not least of all Bridgette Lundy-Paine’s unnervingly accurate Keanu Reeves impression (seriously, it’s hypnotic) and the fact that it’s genuinely nice to see these classic cult characters one more time.
Definitely not most excellent, but certainly not totally bogus or heinous either, Bill & Ted Face The Music just… is; an inoffensive flick that neither overstays it’s welcome or excels in rocking out your funny bone which ticks boxes for fans but surely will be a curious oddity for anyone else.
Party on, dudes, thanks for stopping by…