Bill & Ted Face the Music is an excellent entry in a franchise that wasn’t supposed to turn into a franchise, but here we are. This film could have fallen in the pit of bad sequels but didn’t because it was carefully planned out for over three years so the film could nail its goal: to please the people who loved the first two films, the fans.
The problem with long-awaited sequels in Hollywood is that their makers often capitalize on their once-popular property to make more money by bringing in the fans of the original and a new audience — Dumb and Dumber To, Tron: Legacy, Escape from L.A. (Sorry, John. I still love you.) There’s a long list. Most of the previous sequels fail because they were rushed and poorly planned, and, honestly, nobody wanted them. It’s rare there’s a sequel created with the fans in mind.
So why does Bill & Ted Face the Music hit all the right notes and work?
History lesson, no phone booth needed: Face the Music started out as a Twitter idea from Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston, Esq.) in 2017. The fans went nuts and clamored for it. Making this film took time, patience, and an excellent script for it to happen, and once Keanu Reeves (Ted “Theodore” Logan) signed on, we knew things were about to get excellent and party on one more time. The irony in this is that Reeves was widely mocked for decades by critics, media, and moviegoers for seemingly looking like a bad actor because of his incredibly convincing turn as a lovable stoner in the first two films. Now all of the people who bashed him are probably lining up to see his next movie.
Face the Music opens with Bill’s and Ted’s now-grown daughters, Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving, who are uncanny lookalikes to the guys in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), catch us up on what Bill and Ted have been up to since their Bogus Journey. Bill and Ted were supposed to unite the world and save it with one song but have failed to do so, and it’s been almost 30 years. Arriving from the future is Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of Rufus (R.I.P. George Carlin, who has a brief and excellent cameo), who takes Bill and Ted to a time and place where they learn they have less than two hours to make that song, or the world will end. Whoa.
The two set out on another time-traveling adventure to visit their future selves to see what went wrong while Billie and Thea travel on their own excellent adventure to help their dads save the world.
Like the 21 Jump Street franchise, Bill and Ted do the same thing in each film, but the audience knows this, and it just works. Also like the Jump Street duology, every actor you see in Face the Music is having a blast making this movie, which only makes the film an enjoyable watch. The gossip was whether or not Reeves would actually commit, and he gives 100%.
Yes, this is a time travel movie and time travel movies always have plot holes. Bill & Ted does not care. Did the first two get time travel right? No. Were they trying to? Also, no. What they do get right is consistency. There are running jokes that are hilarious if you have been following the franchise closely since their Excellent Adventure. One is the changing of actors to play princesses in every movie. If this is by accident, I never want to know.
There’s a lot to love about this movie: silly-but-fun plot, laughs, and so much heart, and many of the supporting characters are a pure joy to watch. A robot named Dennis (Barry’s scene-stealing Anthony Carrigan) is sent to kill Bill and Ted but may have a change of heart because he just wants to fit in. The movie is almost stolen by him, the two daughters, and Death (William Sadler), who may help Bill and Ted if they apologize for kicking him out of the band for his love of extended bass solos. As we learn throughout the film, maybe the four stealing the film is the purpose.
Face the Music works for so many reasons. As mentioned, fans wanted this film, and making it come together took time. It’s worth the wait. Winters and Reeves wanted to please the fans as much as they could. In addition to that, everyone puts in 100%. Watching Reeves go back to his comedic routes after years of beating the pulp out of everyone in his path is an excellent treat. On top of that, everyone in the film is clearly had so much fun making this movie. This cinematic cocktail makes for an excellent (sorry) adventure and not a bogus (sorry, again) journey.