Movie Review: Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020)

Title: Bill and Ted Face the Music
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Director: Dean Parisot
Production Company: Orion Pictures | Endeavor Content | Hammerstone Studios

The long delayed sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) finds our heroes Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) having failed to write the song that will unite the world, despite exploring increasingly esoteric musical styles.  The strain begins to affect their marriages with Princess Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) and Princess Joanna (Jayma Mays).  Then Kelly (Kristen Schaal), daughter of their late mentor Rufus, arrives from the future to tell them that their failure to write the song is causing time and space to collapse.

The Bill & Ted films were about goofy teenagers who talked like surfer dudes, so the challenge here is how to make these characters work as middle-aged men.  Winter and Reeves adroitly bring plenty of charm and believability to their roles as man-children.  It also helps that their main plot is to travel to the future and visit older and increasingly antagonistic versions of themselves as they attempt to “steal” the song from themselves.  But youth is served well by Bill and Ted’s daughters, Thea (Samara Weaving, the niece of Reeves’ Matrix antagonist Hugo Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) who travel back in time to put together a band for their dads consisting of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ling Lun, Grom (a prehistoric drummer), and the real life Kid Cudi.

This movie is far better than it has any right to be, channeling the quirky charm and imagination of its forebears into an updated setting.  It has its flaws.  Schaal, a great comic performer, is underused and the Dennis joke is one-note and annoying.  But overall it’s a great finale to the series.  And while a fourth Bill & Ted movie would be unwise, I’m totally on board for a Billie & Thea spinoff movie.

Rating: ***