Ha ha dudes and dudettes, and a most excellent hello to you all! Yes, I’m here to review the very belatedly produced third entry into the Bill & Ted time travel fantasia series! Now, I’ve seen the first of the pictures, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but never the second, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey! So I was a little worried that I wouldn’t know the whole story of what was going on in this newest entry, Bill & Ted Face the Music!
Well, that turned out not to be a major problem! Familiarity with the characters and their adventures in the first picture proved sufficient background to the tale of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan, who are older now and have not yet managed to compose the world-uniting song the future people prophecied they would write! While they and their band Wyld Stallyns did indeed enjoy a taste of fame, they are now has-beens, forgotten by everyone! Having married their Middle Ages princesses, they have each fathered a daughter who acts exactly in the manner to which we who have witnessed their previous excellent adventures are familiar: perpetual expressions of slacker bewilderment, regular use of overfancy language delivered in California surfer style, glee expressed in air-guitar solos! They’re stoners without drugs, and all too evidently unprepared for the challenges the narrative will throw at them!
Keanu Reeves, well known from John Wick Chapter 2, once again plays Ted, and Alex Winter from The Lost Boys is Bill! It all comes down to a plea from the future people to compose the cosmic song, and their efforts to race through time to snag it from their future selves, while evading a maudlin killer robot the future people have sent after them for some reason! The meat of the movie is their encounters with their future selves, three, five, eight years into the future, and the revelation that these older Bills and Teds are at once craftier, more venal, and even bigger imbeciles than their affable present-day incarnations! If you remember the small scene in the original picture in which pre-Excellent Adventure Bill and Ted, loitering in the parking lot of the Circle K, meet their slightly further along selves, who are friendly enough but also deliver both advice and needless riddles, then the middle act of this picture will be familiar!
William Sadler from Hard to Kill, Demon Knight, and Die Hard 2 returns from the second picture to play the German-accented, oversensitive Spirit of Death, while Hal Landon Jr. from Eraserhead and Amy Stoch from Summer School are fellow returnees, playing respectively Ted’s iron-nosed dad and his ex-stepmother/new stepsister! There are eventually more characters than the movie can really support, but the nature of the picture is such that the usual virtues we look for, like economy of action, elegance of design, or cleanliness of narrative line, don’t much count! Instead it’s gags and nostalgia, which the film delivers not in plenty, but in an acceptable quantity!
It’s a slicker and more expensive picture than the first one at least, and I’d imagine the second one too! It seems good-hearted and un-cynical, which is a refreshing thing in these crazy days, so I liked that! But ultimately there’s not a whole lot to it, and it doesn’t lodge in the mind for very long after a viewing! Maybe if I watch it again (and, having a nine year-old who’s grown to enjoy the slacker antics of Bill and Ted, I surely will), it’ll grow on me a bit, and someday find a place in an old Burl’s heart! Until then, I give Bill & Ted Face the Music two theremin solos!