The song that saves the universe. The entire narrative backbone of Bill and Ted has always rested on, and is rooted in this idea. The Two Great Ones are not just tasked with uniting humanity. In Bill & Ted Face the Music, the Wyld Stallyns must create a singular piece of music that keeps the entire space time continuum from imploding in on itself. A task they’ve been unable to accomplish since the burden was thrust upon them by their Time mentor Rufus at the young age of 17. Well into Middle Age, Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan are no closer now to having sung the song that saves us all, than they were way back in good old 1989. And it’s a dilemma that any creative individual with even a modicum of talent can identify with.
They have seemingly failed at their true destiny.
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And that’s a problem. It’s today. Right now. There is no more time. The two great ones must reach deep into their souls and pull forth a banger that will align the planets, right all plains of reality and bring peace to the entirety of existence. No easy task, they only have 72 minutes to accomplish this life goal. And remember, the clock in San Dimas is always running. This is the very definition of a ticking clock scenario. And the perfect narrative upon which to hang what will presumable be the final adventure for our two best friends.
Bill and Ted Face The Music looks, feels and sings like the continuation of this franchise as we’ve come to know it. It’s incredibly optimistic, a breeze at 90-some minutes long, and it crescendoes with a pulse pounding finale that should bring a smile to most faces, especially those who have a vested interest and love for this longstanding series that has spanned both live-action and animated TV, multiple comic book runs, video games and even breakfast cereal. A true team effort was brought forth by creators Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson in further collaboration with stars Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves. Director Dean Parisot brings it all home with a blast of reverb and electricity that has been missing from most late-in-life sequels. This could have gone wrong a hundred different ways, but our boys stick the landing. And perhaps a part 3 only works when Bill and Ted have reached this age in their destiny.
They nailed it.
Perhaps the biggest burden at hand, and the most taxing challenge for the filmmaking team, is having to create a piece of music that believably brings the entire world under one umbrella. Hard to imagine in our current real world scenario, but these guys somehow manage to pull it all off in a believable bit of time travel magic, culminating in a supercharged finale that somehow sounds like the first two Bill and Ted soundtracks all mashed together for a chillingly proficient end to the series.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is full of wild ideas, old favorites, fun new characters and more than a few unexpected surprises. Excellent Adventure is a Time Travel movie. Bogus Journey is about the Afterlife. Perhaps Face the Music could have veered of into another unexpected avenue to explore some bizarre subgenre. But the main story here is about growing old. And dealing with it firsthand. Which is hard to house in a visible construct built from visiting different time periods or traipsing through Heaven and Hell. This is Bill and Ted’s Most Existential Mission.
To find the righteous path, and keep fans happy, it relies on cobbling together a rickety shed that feels like it could all fall at any minute, made up from the first two entries in the canon, while also pulling some of its ideas and jazzy tone from the Marvel Comics that continued The Wyld Stallyns’ adventures through the mid 90s.
This is equal parts Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey, with enough clever call backs and jokes to keep things zipping along at a hurried pace. At that, it also brings something fresh and new to the table. Namely Bill and Ted’s daughters, Billie and Thea, who go on a side mission through time to collect musicians of historical significance to help their dads’ in finding the hook for this one great song that will tie it all together.
At the beginning of Excellent Adventure, Bill and Ted don’t know how to play their guitars. That they’ll become the greatest musicians in the world at some point is the joke. Now in their 50s, the opening of the movie shows us that they have perfected just about every instrument on the planet. Yet they haven’t hit on that one perfect note that unites the cosmos together. It’s a heavy metaphors nearly anyone can identify with. The burden of expectations. Bill and Ted is about coming to terms with that expectation and what an individual eventually does with it at the end of the day.
Bill and Ted Face the Music isn’t a perfect movie. It’s a scrappy little hustle with a lot of heart, humor and bravado. It’s extremely likable on just about every level. It is the perfect ending for our beloved Wyld Stallyns.
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Contributing writer for Movieweb since 2001. Owns a dog who loves watching Milo and Otis on repeat.