Bill & Ted Face the Music review – sweet adventure into middle age | Film

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Not excellent maybe, but by no means bogus either, this cheerful Bill & Ted threequel brings the story of our two laidback heroes up to the melancholy autumn of their middle age.

Alex Winter is Bill – and he’s eerily the same – and Keanu Reeves is Ted; though with that dark mop of hair framing his now rather Easter-Island-stern face, Ted looks more forbidding to me, as if carrying the baggage of Neo (from Matrix) and hitman John Wick. But with his weirdly lovable awkward gestures, Ted clearly still has no idea how or why to move his arms. Like the other two films, this is written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and the director is Dean Parisot, renowned for the sci-fi comedy classic Galaxy Quest.

Bill & Ted was always the non-stoner stoner franchise, a comedy high only on its own absurdity and sweetly serious idealism: as ever, it reminds me (in the best possible way) of a kids’ TV show by someone like Bob “Rentaghost” Block – something to put alongside Doctor Who and Wayne’s World. George Carlin, who played the boys’ cosmic time-travel guide Rufus in the first two films, died in 2008, and makes a virtual-reality appearance here courtesy of archive footage; Kristen Schaal plays his daughter, Kelly.

Nowadays, Bill and Ted are getting on in years, and their band, Wyld Stallyns, has suffered a cataclysmic loss of popularity. The apples of the men’s respective eyes are their music-mad twentysomething daughters, each of whom has effectively been given the name of their dad’s best friend: Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine). This crossover further seals their friends-for-life dedication. Each young woman is of course weirdly similar to her old man, a single-joke mannerism that restricts these performers a fair bit.

The terrible crisis arrives when Bill and Ted are summoned into the distant future by Kelly, and informed by the universe’s Great Leader (an amusingly imperious Holland Taylor) that they have to compose a great track to bring the world together and prevent the destruction of space and time. The boys, sublimely confident that they can do it, but unwilling to go through the faff of actually doing it, simply decide to time-travel forward to the point when it has been done and snatch the composition from their future selves. As Bill declares to Ted: “You have had many counterintuitive ideas over the years, but this is the counterintuitivest of all.” But the Great Leader has an alternative plan to save the world, simply to kill Bill and Ted, for which she has trained a neurotic robot assassin called Dennis, channelling Douglas Adams’s Marvin the Paranoid Android — a nice turn from Anthony Carrigan.

Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving.

Putting a band together … Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy Stock Photo

Bill and Ted’s wacky adventures and bizarre encounters with their own variously transformed selves run in parallel with the attempts of Thea and Billie to assemble their own universe-saving supergroup on their dads’ behalf. They travel back to the 1960s and recruit Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still), to the 1920s to pick up Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft) and then to 18th-century Salzburg to enlist Mozart (Daniel Dorr). The choice of classical musician here is surely a missed opportunity: Hendrix was renowned for living next door to the London house once occupied by GF Handel and, asked by a newspaper about it, he famously replied: “To tell you the God’s honest truth I haven’t heard much of the fella’s stuff. But I dig a bit of Bach now and again.” But of course the most powerful musician of all is the Grim Reaper from Bergman’s Seventh Seal, first encountered in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey — funny stuff from William Sadler.

It’s amiably amusing, and Bill and Ted’s Peter Pannish inability to accept the ageing process is enjoyably surreal, with a weird tinge of not-entirely-intentional tragedy. The failure to give Weaving and Lundy-Paine anything really funny to do is a problem; but all the cast are likable, and it’s a sweet-natured journey backwards and forwards down memory lane.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Bill & Ted Face the Music review – sweet adventure into middle age | Film

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