Updated: Aug 28
I have a very specific childhood memory pertaining to the first two Bill & Ted movies. I was somewhere in the neighborhood of four years old, and on most days when both my parents were working, my mom would take me to the clothing shop where she worked. I’d spend a few hours in the third-floor storage room, which was equipped with a small television and a VCR (old school, I know), and while Mom went about managing the store, I’d watch all the movies that shaped my childhood.
Chief among these movies was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, a bona fide cult classic that almost never saw the light of day. I was completely engrossed by this movie, and I’d spend the rest of the day doing air guitar, shouting triumphantly about The Wyld Stallyns, and impersonating Keanu Reeves famous line, “It’s your mom, dude!” I was a weird kid among a generation of weird kids, so it’s no wonder these movies really spoke to me.
So when I discovered decades later that there was to be another Bill & Ted adventure, I was understandably hesitant to get on board. After all, what good can come of revisiting a beloved franchise when times have changed so drastically since its inception?
As it turns out: plenty good. Boundless, unimaginable, world-saving amounts of good.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is the movie we need right now. Even if you weren’t around for the first two installments, this final chapter will still have you smiling from ear to ear as you forget about your daily troubles and lose yourself to unbridled enjoyment.
The plot of Bill & Ted Face the Music is simple. The title characters were previously told their band The Wyld Stallyns would write a song that would unite the world, and despite a short-lived time as world famous rock stars, they’re still toiling aimlessly thirty years later while everyone they love writes them off as has-beens. As it turns out, even the rulers of the future have lost faith in their ability to write “the one song that will unite the world.” Since the duo knows they’ll eventually write the prophesied song, they set out on a quest to simply steal it…from their future selves!
As with any movie involving time travel and intergalactic shenanigans, every effort to alter the flow of time comes with dire—and oftentimes hilarious—consequences.
One of my favorite parts about Bill & Ted Face the Music pertains not to the title characters, but to their daughters, played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine. These two have such innocent and unshakable faith in their fathers that they take their own journey through time to recruit a rock n’ roll “super group” to assist in writing the big song. Not only are these girls charming and quirky, they’re also total geniuses in music theory and have an encyclopedia of rock star knowledge between them.
In many ways, the subplot of Bill and Ted’s daughters feels a lot like a franchise reboot. Their journey has several parallels to the fathers’ own exploits, and it provides accessibility for younger audiences who may not have seen the first two movies.
Another subplot follows Bill and Ted’s wives, Joanna and Elizabeth, who are growing a little tired of their husbands’ codependency issues and are invited to travel through time in search of better versions of Bill and Ted.
While multiple subplots would be excessive in other movies, it works rather well in the Bill & Ted universe. Fans of the original movies know to let go and simply enjoy the ride, and from the very first scene of the movie, that same tone is set for the uninitiated viewers.
Sci-fi adventures, incest jokes, killer robot assassins, and heartfelt callbacks to old characters (R.I.P., George Carlin), are among the many things that make this movie work well. In much of the same way that Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot built on an old property while maintaining its integrity, Bill & Ted Face the Music proves that cult classics can be properly revived when there’s genuine love for the material.
I’ll refrain from spoiling any of my favorite moments (there are so damn many of them!), because I don’t want to rob you of the experience. All I’ll tell you is this, and I think it means something: I watched this movie with a cranky and sarcastic friend who immediately dismissed it as stoner trash, and by the end of the first act she was along for the ride and laughing her ass off.
In a year as catastrophic and ugly as 2020, Bill & Ted Face the Music is something we truly need. Like the prophesied song that Bill and Ted seek to steal from themselves, this movie has the potential to unite folks who can’t otherwise get along.
So check out Bill & Ted Face the Music in theaters this weekend, and remember: be excellent to each other!