By Robert Nance
for Plainsman Online
Time is falling apart. Babe Ruth is crossing the Delaware River, George Washington is about to be pitched a fast ball, Kid Cudi is now the center of The Last Supper, and Jesus is on stage in front of a roaring crowd.
And the only two people who can save all reality as they know it have less than two hours to ensure the future happens.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is a film that was released on August 28, 2020. The movie is a sequel to 1989’s “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and 1991’s “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” The movie is directed by Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest,” “Red 2”) and was written by Chris Matheson (“A Goofy Movie,” “Mr. Wrong”) and Ed Solomon (“Men In Black,” “Charlie’s Angels”), the co-writers of the original two films.
The film stars Alex Winter (“The Lost Boys,” “Freaked”) and Keanu Reeves (“John Wick,” “The Matrix”) as Bill S. Preston Esquire, and Ted “Theodore” Logan, respectively. Returning from the previous films are also Hal Landon Jr. (“The Artist,” “Eraserhead”) as Ted’s father Chief Logan, Amy Stoch (“Dallas,” “Gunsmoke”) as Missy, and William Sadler (“Iron Man 3,” “Die Hard 2”) as the Grim Reaper.
Joining the new film, replacing the last replacements for the original actresses, are Jayma Mays (“Glee,” “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”) and Erinn Hayes (“Children’s Hospital,” “Kevin Can Wait”) as the Princesses Joanna, and Elizabeth, Bill and Ted’s wives, respectively. Also joining the film are Samara Weaving (“Ready or Not,” “The Babysitter”) and Bridgette Lundy-Paine (“Atypical,” “Bombshell”) as Theadora “Thea” Preston and Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan, Bill and Ted’s daughters, respectively. The last major role is Kristen Schaal (“Bob’s Burgers,” “Toy Story 4”) as Kelly, the daughter of George Carlin’s (“Cars,” “Dogma”) time-travelling Rufus.
Bill and Ted were told in high school that they were prophesied to unite the world through music. Now it’s 30 years later, and they still haven’t accomplished it. Suddenly, they get a message from the future that if they don’t write the song in the next 78 minutes, all of reality will fall apart. Rather than create the song themselves, Bill and Ted decide to use a time-traveling phone booth to go to the future, where they should have already written it and take it for themselves to save everyone. Meanwhile, Billie and Thea discover their dads are in trouble, so they take a different time machine to travel back in time and create a band of history’s greatest musicians to play the song their dads will write.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is the movie that 2020 needed. It is a fun little romp, with a message that as long as we all work together, we can do anything. Performances from Winter and Reeves are as if they’ve been playing Bill and Ted every week since 1991 when they last inhabited the characters.
All the returning actors are great in their performances in this film, with Sadler, as Death, retaining his charm from “Bogus Journey” that made his character a fan favorite. The new stars also hold their own against the established actors. Weaving and Lundy-Paine portray feminine and modern versions of the archetypal roles Bill and Ted played in the first two films. Mays and Hayes portray the princesses the best through the franchise, making their roles their own while fitting into what has already been established in the previous movies. Schaal brings an energy to the future that wasn’t seen in the previous two films.
The writing and direction of this movie is also very good. The situations brought upon the characters are new and inventive. They also give Winter and Reeves the ability to play Bill and Ted in different manners, since they do some time travelling to the future and meet older versions of their characters.
There are plenty of fun and unique sequences throughout the movie that, if you’re willing to go along for the ride, will just make you smile and never really stop.
This movie also has the biggest focus on music in the franchise. While the first two had good soundtracks and managed to work the songs in well to the point that they weren’t jarring, they did not put the focus on the music as much as this one does. The songs that play throughout the movie, whether part of the score or soundtrack, are mixed in better than ever before.
The highlights off of the soundtrack have to be “Right Where You Belong” by Blame My Youth, and the two songs credited to Wyld Stallyns, the first of which, “That Which Binds Us Through Time: The Chemical, Physical, and Biological Nature of Love; An Exploration of the Meaning of Meaning, Part 1,” is used perfectly to set the tone of the entire movie.
“Face the Music” won’t land for everyone. No movie can do that. But if you have a portion of yourself that is willing to succumb to optimism and hope, then this is a movie you need to see as soon as possible. If you haven’t seen “Excellent Adventure” or “Bogus Journey,” this movie explains the plot well enough that you won’t be confused overall about what’s happening. But the previous two movies do help fill in some references that you may be confused by. Seeing the previous two films isn’t required, just recommended.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” might not be the best film released this year, but it might just be the best experience you could have. After all, Bill and Ted’s motto is “Be excellent to each other. And party on dudes.” Just the kind of advice that is sorely needed in 2020.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is currently available at select theaters and through paid video on demand digital stores.