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Bill & Ted
Face The Music

Director – Dean Parisot – Writers – Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson – 2020 – US – Cert. PG – 91m


Party on, dudes! The two friends return having failed over 25 years to write the song to unite all of humanity and prevent the universe unravelling – in cinemas from Wednesday, September 16th

William ‘Bill’ S. Preston esq. and Theodore ‘Ted’ Logan (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) have somehow failed to fulfil their destiny and become losers. 25 years on from their two earlier outings Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Peter Hewitt, 1991). Bill and Ted’s band Wyld Stallyns has been reduced from selling out stadium gigs to playing open mike nights. 

Then they are taken in a time travel pod to 2700 A.D. to discover that because they never did write that song to unify all humanity, the fabric of space and time threatens to unravel by 5.17pm that very day in 2700. 

Their wives Elizabeth and Joanna (the fifteenth century English princesses from the first film here played by Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) have had enough and are going to couples’ counselling… so Bill and Ted travel back to join them, inadvertently making the situation worse. Cue their counsellor Dr. Taylor Wood (Gillian Bell) pointing out that most couples attend sessions as two, not four. 

Bill and Ted decide to travel forward in time again to find the future version of themselves that wrote the song, steal it from them and save the world before it reaches 5.17pm in 2700. In 2022 they must have written that song because they’re living in a lavish mansion. In 2025 the law has caught up with them and they are imprisoned convicts with huge muscles. We later get a glimpse of the pair as ageing, grey-haired rockers in a care home (who get a welcome extra scene if you stick around ’til the end of the credits).

Meanwhile their daughters Wilhelmina ‘Billie’ Logan and Theadora ‘Thea’ Preston (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine), 24, happily unemployed and spending all their time listening to music at home, to the ire of Ted’s disappointed policeman dad Captain Logan (Hal Landon Jr.), try to help their dads by time travelling to assemble the greatest music band ever. Billie and Thea recruit Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still) on electric guitar, the young Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft) on trumpet, W.A.Mozart (Daniel Dorr) on keyboards, Ling Lun (Sharon Gee), the founder of Chinese music, on flute and cave woman Grom (Patty Anne Miller), the undiscovered greatest percussionist of all time, from the Arctic, on drums. In what must be an attempt to appeal to a contemporary youth audience, they are later joined by rapper Kid Cudi (played by himself). 

The film doesn’t take itself too seriously except to make sure it’s in keeping with the distinctly silly characters and world of Bill & Ted. You may not be rolling on the floor, but it is quietly amusing and has irresistible charm. It moves along at a great pace too with an unstoppable momentum.

A killer robot from the future is named Dennis (Anthony Carrigan) after the ex of the woman sent to take them there and the two writers behind all three films Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson get cameos as two minor demons in Hell (where most of the characters get sent at one point). Death (William Sadler), modelled on the character in serious Swedish arthouse fare The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957), also returns having first appeared in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey where he joined Wyld Stallyns as their string bassist.

One element that doesn’t travel beyond the US are three tableaux based on iconic paintings that are used to establish the breakdown of the fabric of space and time as characters disappear from the one in which they belong and reappear in another where they clearly don’t. Those this side of the Atlantic will recognise Jesus from Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper, but will be less familiar with the George Washington of Emmanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s Washington Crossing The Delaware River and an image of baseball pitcher Babe Ruth. The breakdown scenario also provides the opportunity for numerous other historical cameos including Queen Elizabeth I, who sits uneasily alongside the franchise’s two fictional English princesses.

Such occasional lapses in internal logic don’t really matter though. They certainly don’t spoil the fun. It works whether or not you’ve seen the first two films (although if you haven’t and want to make the effort, they’re worth seeing first). Either way, the new film is completely bonkers and hugely enjoyable.

Bill & Ted Face The Music is out in cinemas in the UK on Wednesday, September 16th.


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