Directed by: Dean Parisot
Premise: The third film in the Bill & Ted series. Nearly three decades after their bogus journey, middle aged rockers Bill and Ted (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) have yet to create the song that will unite the world. With time running out, the pair go on one last excellent adventure.
What Works: Bill & Ted Face the Music is the latest in a series of nostalgia sequels, pictures that resurrect long dormant franchises and continue the stories of familiar characters. The Bill & Ted franchise is a known commodity but less so than Star Wars or even Rocky. The lack of pretension or expectation works in the filmmakers’ favor and they have created a belated capstone story that is the best entry in this trilogy. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their roles and the actors and the film smartly account for the passage of time. In the first two pictures it was explained that Bill and Ted would eventually create a piece of music that would unite the world and usher in an era of peace. In Bill & Ted Face the Music, the characters have failed to live up to the prophesy and as a result the universe is on the verge of collapse. Bill and Ted are still the characters we recognize and Winter and Reeves slip back into their roles quite comfortably. But they are also coping with middle age malaise and that gives this film more weight and substance than the other pictures. Winter and Reeves are paired with Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as Bill and Ted’s teenage daughters Thea and Billie. The casting is perfect with Weaving and Lundy-Panie’s characters mimicking the mannerisms and intellect of their fathers. The story sends the characters on a new time travel adventure but this one is more ambitious and has more at stake. It’s an effective compromise between reiterating the familiar Bill & Ted formula while expanding the characters and the story. Face the Music is also very funny and laughs come at a steady clip.
What Doesn’t: The one flaw of Bill & Ted Face the Music is its disconnect from the contemporary music scene. The first two Bill & Ted films came out of a time when rock dominated the music charts and American culture. Three decades later, rock has receded and contemporary popular music owes much more to hip hop and electronica. To their credit, the filmmakers acknowledge that with the casting of Kid Cudi as himself but overall Bill & Ted Face the Music seems hung-up on the musical styles of an earlier era.
DVD extras: Panel discussion and featurettes.
Bottom Line: Bill & Ted Face the Music is one of the most satisfying nostalgia sequels and the rare concluding chapter that is the best of its series. This film does nearly everything right, revisiting the appeal of the previous films while creating a new story that justifies its own existence and elevates the whole franchise.
Episode: #829 (December 6, 2020)