‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Makes You Feel Like Part of the Band
“Bill & Ted Face the Music,” starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and William Sadler. Written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon. Directed by Dean Parisot.
Ladies, gentleman, my most excellent and esteemed friends and colleagues, it’s taken nearly three decades and there have been a lot of starts and stops along the way, but the Wyld Stallions are finally back, and by the looks of it, their triumphant return couldn’t have come at a better time.
The world last saw the delightfully dorky and lovably airheaded duo, Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves), broadcasting their music to the entire world and presumably reaching a most unrivaled level of global, universal, and lunar (?) success at the end of 1991’s “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.” You would be forgiven if you believed that was the moment Bill and Ted fulfilled their ultimate destiny and united the world in song, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
As we’re introduced to Bill and Ted, they’re not rockin’ on the moon, but instead serving as the band at their former stepmom Missy’s third (?) wedding. (She’s now married to Ted’s little brother, Deacon, which is totally not weird or anything.) They’re basically the same people they were when we last saw them 29 years ago, except now they are older, have maybe a handful of fans which they know by name, and are now fathers to a pair of daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), who are just as dorky and lovable as they are.
What they don’t have is a song, the song, the one that Rufus (George Carlin, who makes a brief posthumous cameo) said would bring harmony to the world. And it’s not without trying. Bill and Ted have spent decades trying to write the song, but to no avail. Not only are the years catching up to them, but time is quite literally running out.
As Bill and Ted soon find out, time is folding in on itself, causing glitches in the space time continuum and they only have 77 minutes to write and perform their magnum opus or the universe as they know it will be gone. This leads to a series of time-traveling shenanigans as Bill and Ted travel to the future to steal the song from their future selves while Billie and Thea journey to the past to assemble a most excellent band comprised of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, and Mozart.
There is also a third adventure involving Bill and Ted’s wives, Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes), that feels subdued and unexplored and unfortunately, as a result, is inconsequential to the plot, which is a shame as these characters are almost always an afterthought in these films. But I digress.
It wouldn’t be a “Bill & Ted” adventure without a bodacious cast of colorful supporting characters. These include old friends like Death (William Sadler) and Ted’s father, Chief Logan (Hal Landon Jr.), and fresh faces, including a clumsy killer robot from the future named Dennis (Anthony Carrigan) and Rufus’ daughter, Kelly, played by Kristen Schaal. The future Bill and Teds are scene-stealers in their own right, acting as crazy and incompetent foils to their younger selves. (And keeping with tradition, “Bill & Ted” creators Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson have cameos as a pair of goofy demons.)
You know, they say it’s the journey, not the destination that counts, but in the case of “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” it is definitely the destination that is most outstanding. The film culminates in a stellar climax in which the characters not only create a song that is auditory bliss, but makes you feel like an honorary member of Wyld Stallions, all the while getting you high off its joyful acceptance and dweebish enthusiasm.
As the end credits roll, I didn’t want that feeling to end. I wanted to be a part of that world, but alas, the world is nothing like that. The message of “Bill & Ted” is always the same, “Be excellent to each other,” and yet here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, a civil rights crisis, and a most heinous election year, at the end of four bogus, hellish years, and still, people are most definitely not being excellent to each other. I wish one song could inspire people to dance our problems away, I wish the world, our country, could be as accepting and positive as it is in the “Bill & Ted” films, but sadly, it is not. But despite this, it does feel good, for a short blissful moment, to set aside the real world for 90 minutes and rock along with Bill and Ted on cloud nine.
You see, the final takeaway of “Bill & Ted Face the Music” — and the ultimate message of the “Bill & Ted” trilogy as a whole — is not just about Bill and Ted fulfilling their destiny, but that it promotes a sense of unity and a notion, naive as it may sound, that you, me, or anyone can be a member of Wyld Stallions.