Bill and Ted Face the Music is one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise terrible 2020.
It’s never a guarantee that a movie can live up to the expectations of a franchise. Especially when that franchise has a 30-year break in between installments. Yet, the Bill and Ted franchise hasn’t lost a step with the release of the third installment, Bill and Ted Face the Music. An uplifting affair that focuses on music, influences, and family.
The film sees the return of many franchise actors, most notably Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves as William S. “Bill” Preston, Esq, and Theodore “Ted” Logan respectively. The titular pair are joined by Samara Weaving as Bill’s daughter Theodora “Thea” Preston, and Bridgette Lundy-Paine as Ted’s daughter Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan. Adorably named after their father’s best friend.
While not much screen time is given to Bill and Ted and Thea and Billie as a four-some, the two groups of best friends both branch off in their own little time travel adventure. Bill and Ted try to save their relationships with their wives Princess Joanna Preston (Jayma Mays) and Princess Elizabeth Logan (Erinn Hayes), while also trying to find a song they wrote that’ll save all of time. Billie and Thea, on the other hand, work on putting a band together of some of music’s most influential talents.
The plot can be described as basically being “third verse same as the first.” Bill and Ted have to write a song that saves all of time. Not an original idea, as the idea of them needing to play music to save something, is very similar to the plot for the first two films.
Speaking of past films, Hal Landon Jr. (Ted’s father), William Sadler (Grim Reaper aka Death), and Amy Stoch (Missy, Bill’s Step-Mother from the first film) are all back as well, with newcomers Kid Cudi (as himself), Holland Taylor (The Great Leader), Jillian Bell (couple’s therapist) and Kristen Schall (Rufus’ daughter Kelly) all come in to round out a well put together cast.
Let’s grade this film out.
Acting: The biggest issue, if there really is one, is Reeve’s return as Ted. While not bad at all, and his acting is top-notch, his voice is noticeably deeper than in his 20’s Expected and normally not a bad thing but when you hear that Winter can still nail the surfer-kid accent, it’s a pretty stark contrast. It’s a minimal issue but it is jarring in contrast. We love Reeves though. So this is no slight against him.
Writing: Most of Bill and Ted’s scenes involve, well, Bill and Ted but from other times. It actually works quite well. The bond with their daughters is a big part but could’ve been better fleshed out and given more time together. All four were really brilliant in their roles and more screen time would’ve been most excellent. That said, it’s well done. The only problem is the movie abruptly ends. That will hurt the score.
Design: Bill and Ted look like they are surfer dudes still, just in their late-40, early 50s. Their daughters, who are just like them in every way, also have a vibe that makes you feel they’re out of the early ’90s, even if the film takes place largely in 2020. The movie even captures different eras, namely 1920’s New Orleans, with a bit of subtly that makes you feel like you’re there, without having to spend too much time and money making it happen.
Special Effects: A beautiful melding of practical and special effects. Most of the other Bill and Teds are heavy on the prosthetics, which gives it a real but over the top appearance. It adds to the humor of the movie and is greatly appreciated. A new character, a robot from the future that is sent to kill Bill and Ted is largely practical effects as well. A nice tonal change from the usual need for Hollywood to make everything into digital effects.
Enjoyability: A most enjoyable film, with a most enjoyable cast. The music is amazing, its a treat to see Reeves and Winters back instep as Bill and Ted and the new additions of Weaver and Lundy-Paine add a needed dose of something different into the series.
Overall: 22/25 (88%)
A great film for a time where humor is needed. The opening eight minutes is something to behold and the acting by everyone is top-notch. The biggest issue is the whiplash of an ending that quite literally comes out of nowhere. It’s very abrupt. There is a post-credits scene that may make you chuckle but it doesn’t do anything to set up a fourth film if you’re curious.