Wyld At Heart
Bill And Ted Face The Music
USA/Canada/Italy 2020 Directed by Dean Parisot
Warning: Slight spoilers as to the basic plot set up.
I remember seeing Bill and Ted on the big screen in both Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey on their release in the late 1980s and early 1990s and... I liked them just fine. Everyone was talking like them, walking like Keanu and directing little air guitar stings at each other. They were... well, you know... most excellent.
Now, when I heard a couple of years ago that both Alex Winter (Bill) and Keanu Reeves (Ted) were trying to get a third movie made, my feelings were mixed. I mean, it was nice that the original actors were involved but I really doubted that they could capture the lightning in a bottle that made both the surprise sleeper hit of the first film and the popular success story of the first sequel worth crossing the road for. I was somehow doubtful, especially when I saw the first critic reviews.
You know what though? A lot of those critic reviews were maybe not getting the whole point of Bill and Ted or... maybe they just hadn’t seen the originals. All I can say is, when I finally saw the new movie, Bill And Ted Face The Music, I was absolutely blown away by, not just how funny and charming it is but, also by the way that it never feels like anything other than a natural continuation of the original material. In fact, I think it might well be my favourite of the three.
The film starts off with a story recap voiced by Bill and Ted’s daughters, Billie and Thea, played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine, as they remind us, via a clip from each of the first two movies, that they had a band, the Wyld Stallyns... and that their destiny is to write a song that will unite everyone in the future. We then discover that, despite their best efforts, they never did find that song and the band went from bad album to bad album, eventually splitting up when Death left the line up. So... we join Bill and Ted playing their new tune at the wedding of... Missy and Ted’s brother. Yep, that Missy sure gets around and, after a wonderfully convoluted speech explaining the dynamics of Missy in their lives, they play their new tune. I was already smiling by now but when they let loose with their tune... yeah, it’s outrageously not what I was expecting and already the film had more than won me over. And then did it again a scene or two later with a nice reference to the original, brilliant theremin performer Clara Rockmore.
Anyway, things get desperate when, as the two are desperately trying to save their marriages to the medieval princesses in a counselling session, they are interrupted by the daughter of Rufus, the late George Carlin’s character from the first two films, in a new style time machine. His daughter, Kelly, is played absolutely brilliantly by Kristen Schaal and she really does the memory of the character’s father proud. There’s also a nice little posthumous cameo from George Carlin in the early parts of the movie.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, reality starts packing up and the two dudes have only just over an hour to come up with their song and unite the universe before reality folds in on itself and everything goes to pot. Shenanigans ensue involving four sets of time travellers... Bill and Ted keep going a little more into their future to try and steal the song from their future selves, Billie and Thea go through history to put together a super group to perform said song with them, Kelly is kinda running interference to an extent while the fourth time traveller, a death bot sent by her mum to kill Bill and Ted, is hot on their trail.
And that’s all I’m saying about the story content. My one real criticism is that you can see the end twist coming from maybe ten minutes into the movie but, it doesn’t matter because this film is so much fun it’s untrue and, by the time you get there, you kind of want that to be the ending anyway.
All the cast in this are great and even minor characters like the deathbot have an important and, frankly, very funny role to play. Death is back, of course but, there are also some celebrity cameos which, I have to confess... being as old as I am now... I had no idea who they were. That being said, the super group the two girls put together from throughout history... wow. These actors must have had a lot of fun recreating some of these famous musicians but, in the interests of no big spoilers, I really can’t shout out those surprises for you. But I was smiling all over.
It was absolutely great seeing Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Amy Stoch (Missy), William Sadler (Death) and Hal Landon Jr. (Ted’s dad) reprising their roles and, honestly, it feels like not a day has gone by. Everyone, including the supporting cast, totally nailed their parts.
And that’s me done on Bill And Ted Face The Music. I don’t know what people were expecting from this but I thought it was both a phenomenally great movie and, well... it just felt so much like a slice out of the same loaf that the previous films drew from. To say the film is ‘most excellent’ would be an understatement, to be sure and I’ll certainly be grabbing a Blu Ray of this thing as soon as it comes out (hopefully in a nice boxed edition, bundled with the previous two, if luck smiles on us). Had a really great time with this one. Pure fun.