BILL AND TED FACE THE MUSIC Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

Home Top Ad

Post Top Ad


Tony parties on, dude.

The Bill and Ted movies – Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey – were released in 1989 and 1991 respectively.

Releasing a third part in the sequence and creating the inevitable trilogy some 29 years later was always going to be a risky move.

Most of the people who loved the wild, slacker energy and coming-right-in-spite-of-fundamental-incompetence positivity of the first two movies are either dead now (Party on, George Carlin) or middle aged and creaky – as indeed the eponymous heroes have become when we meet them in this instalment.

Still married to their princesses – at least when we start (no spoilers!), each of the well-meaning loafers has a daughter, (Thea and Billy, naturally) who are, when all is said and done, probably their only surviving fans.

To cover the gap between Bogus Journey and Face The Music, there’s a neat opening infodump that lampoons the history of many a great rock band – creative differences, side projects, never really being able to recapture the initial magic but slogging doggedly on because in their case, it’s music or death. That’s death, the process of no longer being alive, not Death, the kickass bassist and former Wyld Stallyn.

In 2020, Bill and Ted are that exhausting couple of no-hopers who’ll show up for the opening of an envelope just to play music that no-one wants to hear. But they’re plagued with foreknowledge of their destiny to write the song that brings humanity together, and so, much as almost everyone might want them to, they cannot possibly quit.

Add a ticking clock to that – the future comes calling again with the message that unless they play the best song ever written at a mystery location at a particular time later that very day, uniting the world of space, time and all reality (because sure…), then space, time and all reality will fold in on itself and swirl down the drain of non-existence.

Once you’ve done all that, once you’ve gone that far, you have a premise for the movie. And from that point, it’s like the writers, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, kick the brakes off this puppy and ride it into the wild and starry night. Excellent! (Pause for air guitar).

There are lots of gracenotes to the first two movies in this third instalment, not least the fact that there are time machines popping up and down allll over the place as three separate time quests get under way. Bill and Ted, as ever preferring to riff with causality rather than in fact ‘facing the music’ and writing the kickass song they’re destined to write, go forward in ever more gulping leaps along their own timeline, encountering future Bills and Teds and discovering the consequences of their colossal screw-ups. There’s quite a bit of fun to be had from these future Bills and Teds – there are drunk-ass wifeless Bill and Ted, weirdly English Bill and Ted (the accents are probably deliberate pastiches of Dick Van Dyke, but you’re never entirely sure), prison Bill and Ted (probably the best Bill and Ted along the journey, if only for the degree to which they look like computer game characters of dubious repute), and very-nearly-dead Bill and Ted. All this in search to steal or borrow the song they can’t write from their future selves who may have written it.

See? Riffing with causality rather than knuckling down to hard work – it’s the Bill and Ted way.

Meanwhile, their daughters, Billie and Thea more or less replay the plot of the first movie, jumping in a time machine and going back to collect the members of the most kickass band in history – Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Mozart… It’s familiar territory with a familiar energy, and the fact that it’s the daughters of Bill and Ted, rather than Bill and Ted themselves, that go on this particular quest keeps that energy positive and fresh, rather than feeling like an absolute re-run.

It’s telling that in this movie, the old white dudes go forward trying to steal a solution rather than doing the hard work, while young millennial women go questing in search of an actual solution.

Oh, the third time quest? That’s the wives of Bill and Ted, travelling with their future, exasperated selves, looking for a single timeline in which they could be happy with the two hopeless ageing slackers whose single most abiding relationship is with each other.

That third quest might not be really necessary, but it allows for some neat Back To The Future riffs where intertwining story strands pop up briefly, intersect and then go off in their own directions.

The whole thing probably shouldn’t work, and in fact, there’s a level on which it absolutely should crash and burn.

It doesn’t. You think it’s about to – but then it miraculously doesn’t. Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving respectively) are the forces that are most responsible for that, because they synthesise the music-obsessed slacker vibe of their respective fathers, but do it in a whole new, millennial woman way that absolutely gets things done. In fact, we’d be up for a whole new raft of these movies with Billie and Thea in the lead roles. Just saying.

The Bill and Ted quest, while it’s fun in its own right, feels ultimately like a quest to dodge the music, rather than facing it. But nevertheless, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter still harness enough of the clueless but pure-hearted joy of their characters, increasingly letting the original spirit of the duo shine through the intervening decades of failure, failure, vague disappointment, frustrated destiny and a little more failure as time goes on.

Oh, did we mention the Terminator?

Alright, it’s not technically a Terminator, but it’s an advanced shape-changing killing machine from the future with orders not to rest until it destroys Bill and Ted. So y’know, Terminator see, Terminator do…

Acting mostly as an engine of threat to keep the Bill and Ted thread moving at enough speed to keep up with their daughters, it kicks off an extra riff of nostalgia when it… well, that would be telling, but suffice to say there’s a return trip to Hell and a reckoning with Death, who eventually quit the band over creative differences.

From there, the energy lightens significantly, with William Sadler reprising his role of Death to supeeeeeerb effect. Genuinely, if Lundy-Paine and Weaving give the movie its optimistic energy, Lundy-Paine, Weaving and Sadler are entirely bodacious together, rocketing the movie to a conclusion that, while you’ll probably guess it ahead of time, gives us a Bill And Ted movie for the 21st century, feeling right, rocking out and underlying the central messages of being excellent to each other and partying on, dudes of all sexes, genders, times, places and mytho-anthopomorphic natures.

Should you go see Bill And Ted Face The Music?

Of course you should. If you’re old enough to remember the originals, you’ll get the old energy, tempered with the middle-agery that will feel all too familiar. If you’re a millennial, you’ll rock out to the fact that it’s you and yours who have the positive path through time and space. And if you just want to reconnect with that timeless sense of earnest slackerism and everything coming right in the end through the soul-touching power of music, you’ll be punching the air by the end. Ageing realism, youthful exuberance and above all, a rock and roll romp through time, space, causality and both quantum and metaphysics, Bill And Ted Face The Music starts slow and dubious like its heroes, and rockets to a kickass guitar solo of a finish. Let the power of Bill and Ted – and more importantly, the power of Bille and Thea – into your life. You’ll feel better for it.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post Top Ad