Keanu Reeves as Theodore “Ted” Logan
Alex Winter as William “Bill” S. Preston, Esq.
Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan
Samara Weaving as Theodora “Thea” Preston
William Sadler as Grim Reaper
Kristen Schaal as Kelly
Anthony Carrigan as Dennis Caleb McCoy
Jayma Mays as Princess Joanna Preston
Erinn Hayes as Princess Elizabeth Logan
Holland Taylor as The Great Leader
Kid Cudi as himself
Jillian Bell as Dr. Taylor Wood
Hal Landon Jr. as Captain Jonathan Logan
Amy Stoch as Missy
Beck Bennett as Deacon Logan
Directed by Dean Parisot; Written by Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon
Bill & Ted Face the Music Review:
Looking at his career for the past 25 years, it’s hard to believe Keanu Reeves was ever once an airhead on film and after years of trying to get the ball rolling, he and Alex Winter have finally returned as the excellent time travelers Bill & Ted for the long-awaited threequel and though it may not live up to the legacy of the originals, Bill & Ted Face the Music proves to be a plenty fun and nostalgic trip for fans of the franchise.
The stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling exploits of William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Theodore “Ted” Logan. Yet to fulfill their rock and roll destiny, the now middle aged best friends set out on a new adventure when a visitor from the future warns them that only their song can save life as we know it. Along the way, they will be helped by their daughters, a new batch of historical figures, and a few music legends – to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe.
The idea of revisiting the titular duo in their mid-40s is a great concept and the script explores it pretty well, touching on themes of their inability to grow up and the struggle it’s brought to both their families and lifestyle in relatively decent fashion. Though it may not be to the height of some prestige dramas touching upon similar themes, it proves to resonate at a deep enough level to feel believable as Bill and Ted grow over the course of the story.
The humor present throughout the story may not quite click as nicely as it did the first two rounds in 1990 and ’91, but it still mostly proves to be effective for newcomers and longtime fans alike. The time-traveling continues to deliver plenty of outrageous hijinks both in the various past and present eras, from the titular duo running into increasingly nonsensical future versions of themselves to their daughters assembling the ultimate band to save the world from catastrophe, and it all proves an absolute blast from start to finish.
One of the film’s biggest highlights is the story’s handling of the loss of George Carlin, the legendary comedian who played Bill & Ted’s mentor from the future, Rufus, who would guide them from a distance on their time-traveling journeys in order to keep the timeline of a utopian future intact. When development on the film first began a decade ago, Winter confirmed the role of Rufus would not be recast and rather than leave him out entirely, the writers find a truly beautiful way to honor his character and keep him alive throughout the film in a manner similar to the Jumanji sequels, but feels much more emotionally rewarding, bringing a tear to my eye in multiple moments.
Not to mention the performances from its ensemble cast all prove to be a joy to watch, namely those of Reeves and Winter who effortlessly slip back into the roles that first made them household names. Having seen Reeves in the far-more straight-faced John Wick franchise for the past five years, save from a hilarious self-burning cameo in Always Be My Maybe, it’s great to see he can still portray a stoner-level airhead believably and the chemistry Reeves and Winter share together is not indicative of a near-30-year gap between sequels.
Samara Weaving has certainly been a badass to watch in the horror and thriller genres of late, but she shows her range a the daughter to Reeves’ Ted and sparks just as believable of chemistry with co-star Brigette Lundy-Paine as their on-screen dads. And after Bogus Journey, no Bill & Ted would be complete without William Sadler’s Death and with the story taking place long after his first appearance, he gets to shine in an even more nutty and hilarious take on the Grim Reaper, even if it’s not for nearly long enough.
Despite a lot of things going right in the film, there are a handful of things that go wrong that keep it from matching or surpassing its predecessors, with the two biggest flaws coming in the form of its usage of CGI and its fairly predictable nature. One certainly doesn’t go into a Bill & Ted movie expecting to see them lose or be left with an Avengers: Infinity War-level cliffhanger, but there are moments in which the film’s humor or story does tend to feel a little too familiar and convenient in comparison to the past. While the time travel element never looked superb in the prior films, and it does get a decent enough face lift in the threequel, the problem is the decision to create completely green-screen environments for Hell and the future in a truly unconvincing manner.
The preceding films took a more practical approach to bringing the underworld and the utopian future to life that actually felt pretty real and indicative of a competent effort made on the department of the effects department, but be it assembling a cast full of expensive talent or the lack of a desire to actually create believable sets, we’re instead treated to what’s obviously empty warehouses coated in green that makes the worlds feel empty and hollow.
Despite some of the flaws on display throughout, Bill & Ted Face the Music proves to be well worth the wait with a story that is full of heart, effective airhead personas and great performances from its cast, resulting in a plenty fun and nostalgic adventure for longtime fans that could even convert newcomers.