By Elias Savada.
Here’s an inane and silly tonic, one that might lift people’s souls in these sad times. Like Santa Claus coming down the chimney at Christmas, Bill & Ted Face the Music offers a crazed, intoxicating gift”
It’s been nearly three decades since Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter last partied onscreen as the Wyld Stallyns. Travelling back to 1989, some of you might have been around when their ridiculously dopey Southern California dudes William “Bill” S. Preston, Esq. and Theodore “Ted” Logan first graced the silver screen with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and two years later sued Death in its sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Finally, after a too-long delay, a third installment has arrived chronicling these hollow-headed optimists, courtesy of the series creators Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. They are joined by director Dean Parisot, responsible for Galaxy Quest (1999), one of the greatest scifi comedies ever, which shares with Bill & Ted Face the Music a mythic urgency about our very existence!
Warning: this film’s so heavy/insane it might be prudent that some cannabis be available nearby. Your future may depend on it.
Ostensibly set in the present-day San Dimas, but, if you know anything about our time-traveling, earnest-yet-dumb heroes, the action doesn’t stay there (or then) for long. This time around the now middle-aged guys – married to their 15th-century princess girlfriends Joanna and Elizabeth (now played by Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes) and with grown daughters Thea (Samara Weaving, niece of Hugo, who starred with Keanu in those Matrix films) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) – have been designated unlikely saviors of time and space. According to emissaries in the future, we will cease to exist, unless the Stallyns get their act together and play a “song that unites the world.” Reality “as we know it,” will cease to exist!
If, however, you want to make sense of what follows, don’t. Go with the flow.
The women play crucial roles (and get some of the more recognizable product placements) in all this. Billie holds a bag of cheese-flavored snacks for an extended time, yet somehow never displays tell-tell signs of orange fingers or mouth. The daughters are most definitely built around their dad’s personas, with similar quirks and mannerisms, especially talking in unison.
A slew of historical characters are plucked from their times to help make up the killer band that will find closure to the adventure: Jim Hendrix, Louis Armstrong (plucked from New Orleans in 1922), Mozart (arriving from 1892 Vienna), Ling Lun (the Chinese flutist and legendary founder of music, circa 2600 BCE), and Grom (yeah, a real fictional cavewoman who’s apparently the world’s first drummer, from about 12,000 years ago). Rapper Kid Cudi just crashes the film. A most usual mash up of a mix tape.
Other cameos are made by Babe Ruth, Jesus Christ, George Washington, Queen Elizabeth, Dave Grohl (the real one), and probably many more (sorry, I blinked).
Comedian Kristen Schall is Kelly, offspring of Rufus (the late George Carlin, looking better than ever…as a brief hologram), and named after Carlin’s real daughter. She’s from 700 years in the future, where the world is shimmering and sleek, yet lightly populated, except for some learned leaders including Kelly’s regally costumed mother played by Holland Taylor. Taylor’s character is the one that tells the men-boys they are needed at a very important event (the one that will hopefully save the universe) that will occur in 77 minutes and 25 seconds. Now, I’m not sure that’s future or past tense time, and considering there is so many shifts in the time-space continuum, I had to guess it was script time, as it happens to be about how much time is left until the final end credit rolls off the screen. BTW, be sure to stay past those, as there is an extra added riff.
Supplementing the basic plot line is a Terminator-like robot (Anthony Carrigan) sent back from the future to kill Bill and Ted, and a sidetrack scene about couples therapy.
As part of their search to solve the riddle of that big song-to-save-us-all, Bill and Ted constantly meet up with themselves in various time lines, mostly older ages that allow their other selves to sport crazy makeup styles, including overweight and totally pumped up. Lots of hugging (remember hugging?) with themselves, too. Well, with their stunt doubles.
And God Bless William Sadler. Death has never been funnier. He’s stuck in Hell and still pissed at Bill and Ted for how they left him high and dry decades. His solo bassist career never took off after he left the band. Yeah, Death still holds a g(r)udge.
So, yes, here’s an inane and silly tonic, one that might lift people’s souls in these sad times. Like Santa Claus coming down the chimney at Christmas, Bill & Ted Face the Music offers a crazed, intoxicating gift we can use this quarantine season.
Elias Savada is a movie copyright researcher, critic, craft beer geek, and avid genealogist based in Bethesda, Maryland. He helps program the Spooky Movie International Movie Film Festival, and previously reviewed for Film Threat and Nitrate Online. He is an executive producer of the horror film German Angst and the new documentary Nuts! He co-authored, with David J. Skal, Dark Carnival: the Secret World of Tod Browning (a revised edition will be published by Centipede Press).