Bill & Ted Face the Music

I loved this movie. Probably more than it deserved, but I don’t care. It is easily one of my favorites of the year and I am glad to set it next to its excellent predecessors.

It is something of a miracle that this kind of late come sequel actually manages to stand alongside the originals. Most of the time, a late coming sequel like this, especially to a comedy, is a recipe for disaster. Look at Dumb and Dumber to, Blues Brothers 2000, or Zoolander 2. Whether the people behind them were returning for money or if they wanted to return to some of their most loved characters, these movies haven’t really worked at all. Bill & Ted Face the Music, despite being even further removed from the heyday of the originals, doesn’t have this problem. For lack of a better word, Face the Music bucks that trend by just being incredibly genuine. Yeah, it has been nearly thirty years since Bogus Journey, but Face the Music feels like a natural extension of the previous movies.

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves step right back into the shoes of these characters and it just feels right. Winter does a better job than Reeves of feeling like his younger self; Reeves seems a bit too thoughtful to slip seamlessly back into the shoes of the dopey Ted. For the most part, though, they feel like the same dim but positive buddies you know and love. Death returns, and William Sadler is as much fun as he was in Bogus Journey. As far as new additions go, Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine are great as Thea and Billie, Bill and Ted’s doppelganger daughters. Those two do an excellent job of echoing their parents without seeming like they are doing caricature.

The plot manages a similar balancing job; feeling like an echo of the first two movies without being a carbon copy. At the start of the movie, Bill and Ted have fallen pretty far from the fame they rose to during the credits of Bogus Journey. They have started to crack under the pressure of creating the song that will unite humanity. Even their wives, princesses from Medieval England, are growing concerned. Then they are whisked to the future and told that they have to have the song in a few hours. The duo gets the bright idea to nab the time machine and go to the future, where they have already written the song. That sets them meeting up with increasingly farcical future versions of themselves as they get more and more desperate. At the same time, Billie and Thea travel backwards in time on their own mission to help their fathers, a mission that is highly reminiscent of the first movie.

There are some flaws. The movie feels rushed at times. It comes in a brisk 90 minutes and feels like there is another 30 that were cut. Splitting time, somewhat, between Bill and Ted and Billie and Thea means that at least one of those stories doesn’t get quite enough time. There is a third prong with the wives that is barely worth a mention. The movie also looks kind of cheap. It feels more charming than anything, but there really isn’t hiding it in some situations.

That said, Bill and Ted traveling through time meeting different versions of themselves is absolutely delightful. Winter and Reeves appear to be having a great time with these variations on the characters and most of the jokes land.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is about as much fun as I remember having with a movie in ages. It is just heart warming and joyous. Most of these late coming sequels reek of sweaty desperation; Face the Music feels like the intended culmination of a long journey.

****1/2

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