Bill & Ted Face The Music – Review

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Movie studios tend to like sequels that can usually be summed up as “Just like the first movie, but more.” Freddy kills a bunch of teenagers in their sleep the first time around, and when we get the next movie, it’s Freddy killing a different set of teenagers. If Spider-Man fights a bad guy in the first movie, he fights another bad guy in the second one, maybe two bad guys if they want the movie to have bigger stakes the second time around. Movie studios like for their franchises to find a formula and stick to it wherever they can. The Bill and Ted movies are pretty much the opposite of this mentality. For anything related to history about music you get here best information.

Where the first movie is a time travel comedy with two teenagers traveling to various points in history and recruiting/kidnapping famous historical figures to help them with their history final, the sequel completely ditches the time travel concept and instead kills the main characters in the first act, sending Bill and Ted on a journey through the afterlife, visiting both hell and heaven, as well as adding in aliens partway through the story. It keeps the same main characters that audiences loved from the first movie, but put them in a completely different set of circumstances, and becomes a completely unique piece of work from the first movie. It’s fantastic and more movie franchises should be willing to explore the boundaries of what they can do with their characters. 

The wildly different plots of the first two Bill and Ted movies puts the third movie, Bill and Ted Face the Music in an interesting position, where it simultaneously has to be a sequel to the first time travel movie, and the second existential afterlife movie. Fortunately, it not only pulls this balancing act off, but managed to be its own unique movie as well. 

While Bill and Ted (Alex Winder and Keanu Reeves) were always characters destined to write the song that would one day unite all of humanity and bring about world peace, the actual song creation has always kind of existed in the background  of the movies. In the first movie Bill and Ted were trying to get a good grade so that they could stay in school together and the band wouldn’t break up. The focus on the second movie was on coming back to life after being killed. The actual song writing/band performing of the movie is never really the focus. This time around, the movie is all about the music. Music beauty is in the eye of listener and listener knows all Music related info.

With twenty-five years having passed since Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, and the great song having yet to be written, Bill and Ted have grown more desperate trying to come up with the creation that is supposed to be their destiny. Their latest attempt involved a theremin, bagpipes and some throat singing, in a “throw everything at the wall” approach to songwriting. Bill and Ted seem to be on the verge of giving up their pursuit of destiny, when a summons from the future arrives to tell the pair that time’s up, and they’re down to their final hour and a half before they need to perform the song that will bring world peace and save reality. (The save reality part’s new.) With the deadline approaching, Bill and Ted decide the best approach to songwriting for a band with access to a time machine is to travel into the future, after the song is written, and take their own song from their future selves. 

Joining the pair are their daughters Thea and Billie (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine) who have never lost faith in the idea that their fathers were destined for musical greatness. As their fathers search for the song to unite all of humanity, Thea and Billie (with a time machine of their own) travel through history to assemble the greatest band of all time to play that song as soon as their fathers write/discover/steal it. 

While both time travel and the afterlife return in this movie, Bill and Ted Face the Music still ventures into new territory for the franchise, largely, focused on the fact that the two main characters are now adults, with teenage children of their own. The Bill and Ted of this movie have spent twenty-five years not fulfilling their destiny, and now there is a literal ticking countdown clock as time is running out for them to do the thing that they were born to do. It’s a different outlook than the first two movies that featured high school (or fresh out of high school) characters, and one that is continually driven home as Bill and Ted continue to run into older versions of themselves as they travel further into their own future. It’s not a dark outlook, or a somber one that forces one to address their own mortality, but the movie takes advantage of the fact that characters we know and love have aged, and it’s a different world today. 

These two characters, played by these two actors, are the reason that the three movies can go off in such wildly different directions and still work so well. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter return to these roles so smoothly, it feels as though they haven’t taken a two decade break, since their last round as Bill and Ted. Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine do not have an easy task as the new generation of characters going on wild sci-fi adventures, and it probably takes two or three scenes for you to figure out what exactly they’re going for with these new characters. But when it clicks into place, they’re as strong of characters as Bill and Ted are, and their personalities carry the third movie just as much as that of their fathers. 

Bill and Ted Face The Music is a third movie that assumes that you’ve seen the first two movies. (People being sent to hell is treated far to casually for someone who doesn’t know what the second movie is about.) It’s a movie that thrives on your nostalgia for the first to movies, yet it doesn’t dwell on it. There’s a Circle K in this movie, but the movie doesn’t grind to a halt so that we all know why there’s a Circle K. It’s there to make you laugh if you notice it in the background, but if you don’t that’s fine, this movie has it’s own story to tell. For a trilogy thats about a song meant to unite the world, this is the first movie where music feels like a real driving point of the movie. It’s something that manages to simultaneously make this movie stand out from the previous two, but also help it to fit in with the spirit and tone of the earlier movies. 

“Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!”

It’s a quote from the first movie, but it’s also a mission statement for Bill and Ted movies. These are kind people, trying hard to do good things. Even the villains and monsters of the franchise don’t manage to be all that bad. As the dumpster fire we’re all trapped in continues to move forward, “Be excellent to each other. And party on, dudes!” is a mentality that’s worth keeping with you, and it’s one that shines out brightly from this movie.