’Bill and Ted Face the Music’ Review: Dir. Dean Parisot (2020)

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In 1989 audiences around the world were introduced to one of cinema’s most iconic comedy duos, Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan. Together they were Wyld Stallyns, a band destined to heal the world with their most excellent musical musings. Their journey to greatness took them back in time for an excellent adventure, and into Hell and back again on a bogus journey. Now they reunite to face the music in the third instalment of the Bill and Ted Saga. Bill and Ted Face the Music has been in production development on and off for the last twenty-nine years, and many thought the product was a pipe dream that would never gain traction. And yet, all of a sudden, everything came together and somehow it’s now one of the few films to make it into cinemas amidst a global pandemic. Available in select cinemas and on digital in the US, but in the UK, the only way to see the film is by popping down to your local multiplex.

Those that have seen the Bill and Ted films that have come before will be forgiven for thinking that the story arch of the Wyld Stallyns was all tied up. Bogus Journey culminates with the pair travelling into the future where they finally learn to actually play their instruments. The end credits then play alongside a series of newspaper and magazine articles that chart the rise of the band. For reasons unveiled in the opening in Face the Music, this hasn’t happened after all. We join Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves), now fully-fledged adults, as they spend their days trying to create the song that will unite the universe. At the same time, they’re trying to keep their marriages to the princesses afloat and raise their daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine). Desperate to fulfill their destiny after being given an ultimatum by the future, the pair hitch a ride in their trusty telephone booth, and decide to try and steal the peace-giving song from their future selves. What could possibly go wrong?

Fans of the original films will be pleased to know that both Missy (Amy Stoch), complete with yet another new husband, and Death (William Sadler), make a return. The characters of Joanna and Elizabeth, aka the Medieval Princesses, also feature; this time around they are played by Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes respectively, and mark the third iteration for each character. They also get a little more screen time than we’ve seen before. Crucially missing however, is the late great George Carlin who played Rufus; though sadly no longer with us, Face the Music does offer a nice little tribute to him. It’s just one of many nods to what has gone before and the whole film is steeped in nostalgia for those that were around for the first escapades. 

Previous films have focused solely on our titular duo, but with Face the Music, the world opens up and branches out into the lives of others. Most notable are the daughters, Billie and Thea, who go on their own excellent adventure as they seek out a backing band for their dads. The story strand could almost be viewed as a soft reboot of the original, each channelling their father’s charming essence. There’s also a new killer robot in town, an anxiety ridden one called Dennis, which is so clingy that he makes Death look aloof. Played by Anthony Carrigan, Dennis is essentially this film’s Napoleon / Death and makes some of the more memorable moments of the film. The scenes between him and Death are especially amusing. By seeing these other characters thrust into the spotlight it of course opens up the possibility for further films within the world that wouldn’t necessarily require Winter or Reeves.

By spreading the story across so many characters, Bill and Ted occasionally play second fiddle to the newbies. It takes some getting used to – we’re used to spending the duration of a Bill and Ted film with Bill and Ted. Considering that we’ve waited almost thirty years to be reunited with them, it’s a little disappointing that we can’t spend more time with the pair. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t work with the new characters, it does, it’s just not quite the Bill and Ted film we were expecting.

If you’re a fan of Bill and Ted, you’re either more of an Excellent Adventure or Bogus Journey fan. Personally I prefer Excellent Adventure, but Face the Music, much like Bill and Ted’s mission to unite the universe, seeks to combine elements of the two. It’s an interesting blend that mostly works. What it does though is ensure that no matter which previous film you side with, there’s a nice hit of nostalgia for you. 

Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson once again prove that they know how to write wholesome fun for all the family. The musical finale induces feelings of a warm hug, one which we could all use right now.  

A welcome reunion with some very special friends, Bill and Ted Face the Music is a wonderfully nostalgic blend of two beloved classics.

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SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com/news/bill-and-ted-face-the-music-review-dir-dean-parisot-2020/?remotepost=282082

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