After an almost 30 year gap in between sequels the excellent duo return in Bill and Ted Face the Music in a most triumphant manner. It is sometimes tricky business with decades later sequels and especially comedy sequels as with third comedy movie outings sometimes the results are dire. But with the returning actors and same writers, this fits perfectly into the series. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is a perpetually jovial film which makes the left turn into darker territory of the sequel, Bogus Journey, somewhat jarring. Face the Music is a more upbeat outing, and while the third movie may sort of jumble together and reprise a few key plot point bits from the first two movies, it is all just so much fun that repeating a few bits gets a pass.
Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are the rock group Wyld Stallyns and 30 years ago they had great success with a worldwide televised performance but now they again languish in obscurity. The added pressure is they were foretold by people from the 700 years in the future that one of their songs would unite the world in peace, but they still haven’t come up with the tune. Now time and space are unravelling and the important future person, Kelly (Kristen Schaal) finds Bill and Ted because they have 70 minutes to write the song that saves the universe or else reality itself will collapse. Desperate, the guys decide to use their time travelling phone booth and get the song from their older selves. Meanwhile, their daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Bridgette Lundy-Paine) decide to help their dads by travelling through time to find most excellent historical musicians to help Wyld Stallyns write the song that saves the world, but they all are running out of time and have to face the music.
The time travel logic in these movies are gleefully illogical but it adds an element of danger that their song has to not only unite the Earth but save reality itself, as amusingly historical figures keep popping up randomly in the timestream as time collapses in on itself. There’s a killer robot chasing down Bill and Ted which is a bit repetitive as Bogus Journey also had killer evil robots but this robot turns out to be hilariously weird. The daughters’ story about time travelling for historical figures and eventually landing in the afterlife repeats plot elements of the first two films with a different flair. The afterlife also allows the return of Death (William Sadler) who left Wyld Stallyns in a huff and Sadler gets to play a prima donna musician version of Death who just wants to rock. George Carlin played Rufus the time traveler in the first two films and even though Carlin passed away, Face the Music works in a brief hologram cameo.
What is interesting about Bill and Ted being way older is that in some ways, no time has passed at all as they are the exact same people still decades later, which totally befits the characters. They’re too lovably dim to change as Winters and Reeves return perfectly. Neither of them upstage the other, they’re a great comedic duo and still enjoyably stupid, especially when they try to escape a dire situation by throwing buckets on their heads and jump off a balcony because they think being confused will save them.
In other more visible and spiritual ways, the decades of rejection weighs heavily on them. Reeves gets in a solidly dramatic moment when he admits that he’s tired after all this time and is even considering selling his gear, and also their marriage to their wives is under strain. There is a whole side plot about their wives travelling through time to look up alternate futures that is almost entirely referenced instead of happening onscreen which is unique. The increasingly nastier older version of Bill and Ted that Bill and Ted run into are really demented as Reeves and Winters get to play the duo as hard drinking con men and prison yard thugs.
The movie reaches a great climax where time has run out and Bill and Ted need the song to save the world. There are a few unexpected left turns that may tweak the Bill and Ted mythology but not exactly break it. Face the Music’s ending has a lot to live up to because as dark and weird as Bogus Journey was, it had a perfect ending with Bill and Ted’s worldwide performance. This throws in some nifty time travel twists and infinite realities, featuring people coming together in musical peace that is an oddly profound message to experience in a divisive time. Bill and Ted end up with two perfect endings in two movies and not teasing any more sequels, like so many franchises do. This movie also features an awesome post-credit scene which is worth checking out.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is a fantastic capper to a most triumphant series. Them being older has such a powerful impact when things finally start to come together. The two dumb teenagers stumbled into saving the world, the two older men have to fight to earn it.
Bill and Ted Face the Music
Director: Dean Parisot
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter and Kristen Schaal