Bill & Ted Face the Music

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Bill & Ted Face the Music
dir Dean Parisot
scr Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon
prd Alex Lebovici, David Haring, Steve Ponce, Ed Solomon, Alex Winter
with Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, William Sadler, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Beck Bennett, Jillian Bell, Kid Cudi
release US 28.Aug.20,
UK 16.Sep.20
20/US Orion 1h28

schaal weaving mays
See also:
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

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Bill & Ted Face the Music
After nearly 30 years, that optimistic duo takes a new time-hopping adventure, required once again to write a world-saving song. The storytelling is messy, but the film is so disarming that only the coldest curmudgeon will be able to resist its charms. And at a time when society is at war with itself, this is a refreshing celebration of the simple joys of getting together and rocking the roof off.
Now middle-aged, Bill and Ted (Winter and Reeves) don't have many fans for their band Wyld Stallyns. Their wives Joanna and Elizabeth (Mays and Hayes) are supportive, although this has strained their marriages. But their teen daughters Thea and Billie (Weaving and Lundy-Paine) adore them. Then Kelly (Schaal) arrives, whisking Bill and Ted 700 years into the future, where the Great Leader (Taylor) says they have just 77 minutes to write a song that saves reality. To compose it, Bill and Ted head back down the timeline, while their daughters embark on their own adventure.
It's somehow heartening that Bill and Ted are still best buds oblivious to the world around them. Their finely synchronised interaction works better when they're ridiculous than when they try to be serious. and there are some unconvincing encounters with other characters, including wacky incarnations of themselves. Meanwhile, the Great Leader randomly sends a killer robot (Carrigan) after them, which further complicates things, resulting in a return to hell to sort out a mess with their old nemesis Death (Sadler).

Reeves and Winter have terrific chemistry, even as the time-shifted versions of the characters, finishing each others' sentences and never accepting that they might fail their mission. Weaving and Lundy-Paine have a lot of fun mimicking them as they gather ace musicians throughout human history. In smaller roles, Hayes and Mays take their own journey, seeking a time when their marriages are happy. And both Sadler and Carrigan add their own warped energy.

The chaotic plot knowingly echoes both previous movies while threatening to fall apart at any moment, but of course it comes together for a supremely nutty finale that plays on music's universal power. This makes the film eerily timely, an oddball affirmation of unity for our period of out-of-control division. So even though this movie isn't great enough to save the planet, and it's barely even coherent as a comedy adventure, it certainly puts a smile on our face. And the closing credits sequence feels rather magical.

cert pg themes, language 28.Aug.20

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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure 
Review by Rich Cline
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
dir Stephen Herek
scr Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon
with Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, Terry Camilleri, Dan Shor, Tony Steedman, Rod Loomis, Al Leong
release US 17.Feb.89,
UK 25.Aug.89
89/US Orion 1h30

See also:
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey Bill & Ted Face the Music

Now streaming...

winter and reeves
The original review from Shadows on the Wall Vol 5 No 2, Mar-Apr 1989
Every once in a while you have to get out of your rut -- to go see a film like Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, something so out of the mainstream, so obviously devoid of Oscar aspirations, that it might actually entertain you for a couple of hours. Most of the time you exit the theatre stunned at filmmaker stupidity (like when you watch a Police Academy chapter). But occasionally a silly film gets you right here, if you know what I mean, and sends you into fits of hysterical laughter (like Pee-Wee's Big Adventure or Airplane!). This film is one of the latter.

I must admit that my expectations weren't very high as I sat down. From the previews it looked like a very stupid film. OK, so it was stupid. But what I wasn't ready for were the stylish direction by Stephen Herek; the goofy performances by Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and George Carlin; and a screenplay that effortlessly mixed a ridiculously convoluted plot, outrageous sight gags, running jokes galore and some very, very subtle wit.

The story, in simple terms, follows two highschoolers as they travel through time and collect famous historical figures for their history project. Never mind how or why they do all of this. It's all explained fairly adequately in the film. Besides, that doesn't matter. The results are the fun. It's also fun to see the imaginative ways the writers thought these figures would respond to our society -- not like you'd expect! Joan of Arc leading aerobics, Beethoven at an electric keyboard, Sigmund Freud ("the Frood dude") eating a corndog, Socrates ("soh-kraites") in the mall, Abraham Lincoln echoing the film's message: "Be excellent to each other."

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves are perfectly oblivious as Bill and Ted. Reeves, in particular, has been in such a wide variety of films ... what is there to follow dealing with murderous friends in River's Edge, teen suicide in Permanent Record and innocent love in Dangerous Liaisons than a wacked-out history of the world? Such silly fun. Party on, dudes.

cert pg some vulgar dialog Feb.89

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey  
Review by Rich Cline
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
dir Peter Hewitt
scr Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon
with Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, Joss Ackland, Pam Grier, George Carlin, Amy Stoch, Jim Martin
release US 19.Jul.91,
UK 3.Jan.92
91/US Orion 1h33

See also:
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Bill & Ted Face the Music

Now streaming...

winter, sadler, reeves
The original review from Shadows on the Wall Vol 7 No 5, Aug-Oct 1991:

For my 30th birthday, a Shadows reader in Lynwood, Ill., sent me a sympathy card with this inscription: "To help ease your sorrow in this time of transition, your gift is the enclosed check to buy yourself one ticket to see the sequel to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure at a decent theatre with popcorn! I hope seeing this movie will help you rekindle your lost youth. Please accept my condolences." Thanks Melinda. I owe you one.

OK I admit it, I loved Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. It's an action-packed, hilarious movie with no pretensions. And it was sooo refreshing to sit through a film that didn't club you over the head with some Important Message.

Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) are back in the sequel to the 1989 comedy. This time, the duo doesn't collect historical figures for a report, they go to heaven and hell, challenge the Grim Reaper and battle evil robot replicas of themselves. It's all so silly that you can't help but love it. Winter and Reeves are wonderful once again as the spaced-out rockin' dudes from San Dimas, Calif. Their blissful innocence is palpable. Their simplistic solutions to complex problems seem ridiculous, but they work. William Sadler very nearly steals the film as Death, a cold-hearted creep who comes alive when he starts hanging around with Bill and Ted.

Director Hewitt has a hey-day with the camera in this film, using bizarre angles and quirky special effects to keep the audience off-balance and mesmerized. The story skips along with an originality that's so weird and frenetic that you never guess what will happen next. For an escape from more preachy fare, there's nothing quite like taking a trip with Bill and Ted.

cert pg innuendo, violence Jun.91

© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall