Movie review: ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ is a much-needed dose of goofy optimism


    Keanu Reeves (left) and Alex Winter reprise their roles in « Bill & Ted Face the Music. »

    And so the return of Bill Preston and Ted Logan in their third adventure, “Bill & Ted Face the Music,” is cause for celebration. And while the movie has the inside jokes and callbacks that nostalgic fans will eat up, what really makes it so endearing is that it teleports the duo’s enthusiastic spirit intact to 2020.

    In the intervening 29 years since 1991’s “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey,” Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) have seen their fortunes dwindle. Their band Wyld Stallyns, once credited with fostering harmony throughout the universe, has steadily waned in popularity. When the film opens, they’re a wedding band playing a squonky bagpipe-and-theremin free jazz exploration to a bewildered audience. (I thought it slapped, personally.)

    But although they’re on the back side of 50, Bill and Ted remain undaunted, best buddies who are convinced that their epic musical destiny will be fulfilled. Winter and Reeves slip into their old roles like a pair of comfortable old flannel shirts; it’s especially delightful to see Reeves, now better know as a brooding action hero in the “John Wick” and “Matrix” movies, get the chance to be unabashedly goofy on screen again.

    Destiny comes calling in the form of Kelly (Kristin Schaal), the daughter of interdimensional being Rufus, played by George Carlin in the first two films. She warns that Bill & Ted need to play the ultimate song in concert in just 78 minutes, or reality itself will be ripped apart across space and time. (This sort of thing happens to Bill & Ted a lot.)

    The only problem is that Bill & Ted haven’t written that perfect song yet. So they use Kelly’s time-travel egg to hopscotch forward in time to visit their future selves to see if they’ve written the songs yet. These scenes are very funny, giving Reeves and Winter the chance to play over-the-top alternate versions of Bill & Ted.

    Meanwhile, Bill and Ted have daughters, named Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), who are the spitting image of their dads. Learning that their fathers are in trouble, Billie and Thea grab a time machine of their own and go into the past to assemble the ultimate dream band to accompany Bill & Ted in the perfect song.

    If that seems convoluted, it absolutely is, and that’s so much of the fun of “Bill & Ted Face the Music” as it skips from scene to scene and era to era. Director Dean Parisot, who made the modern classic “Galaxy Quest,” keeps the cheerful momentum going as the film piles on new characters and new jokes on the way to the ultimate gig. William Sadler returns as the bass-playing Death, and Anthony Corrigan of “Barry” is hilarious as a killer robot with an identity crisis.

    Screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who also wrote the first two films, have a laser focus on what makes Bill & Ted so appealing. You can feel the excitement of everyone involved at getting the chance to make another Bill & Ted movie, and the enthusiasm is contagious. We needed this right now — “Bill & Ted Face the Music” may not actually save reality, but it sure brightens it up for 90 minutes or so. Party on, dudes.

    Now available to rent on video on demand through ITunes, Amazon Video, VUDU and other streaming sites

    Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.

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    Keanu Reeves (left) and Alex Winter reprise their roles in « Bill & Ted Face the Music. »




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