Review: 'Bill & Ted Face The Music' (2020) Dir. Dean Parisot
Nearly 30 years after an excellent adventure and bogus journey, Bill and Ted return for a new generation to see if they can save the world with their music once more...
25 years after their immediate worldwide fame, Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) of the "Wyld Stallions" have lost their ability to make popular music, and settle for a mundane, rather ordinary life playing to small crowds and lacking real passion.
But when Kelly (Schaal), daughter of time-traveller Rufus, arrives from the future, she warns Bill and Ted that they have 77 minutes to write a song that will unite the world and save space and time from collapsing on itself.
With help from their daughters Billie (Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Weaving) and old friend Grim Reaper (Sadler), a most excellent and dangerous time-travel adventure awaits with the fate of the world in their hands...
The sequel to 'Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey' of 1991, and having been in on/off production since early 2010, the passion and dedication of stars Reeves and Winter have paid off with a fan-pleasing third entry. However, you can't but wonder nearly 30 years later if this is all built on heavy nostalgia, and the rising success of Keanu Reeves in his 'John Wick' era and the bankable star lead.
On the most part, for the fans, it's nice to see old faces return such as Hal Landon Jr as Captain Logan, Amy Stoch as Missy and William Sadler as the scene-stealing Grim Reaper. We also have the iconic phone-booth that is as rickety as it looked back in the day. It keeps a sense of familiarity and family to proceedings, which is something that these films always channel along with the semi-goofy comedy. No time is wasted in a look back at what happened years ago, and also where we now pick up with this family friendly Beavis and Butthead duo. Safe to say, the play on past films works really well and lays a sense of comfort that we're back with familiar (if older) faces.
However, you can't help feel that it's two films running at the same time, with nothing but nostalgia and star-power keeping it going.
While working to appeal to a new generation of fans and audiences, it falls to newcomers to the franchise Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine to be the "new" Bill and Ted through near replications of the younger Winter and Reeve's attitude, voices and actions from the original films. Couple this with their story about travelling through time assembling familiar musical faces from the past to help create the greatest rock band ever, it's nothing but the first film recycled and re-packaged with less of story, comedy and originality. Things just happen with no exploration of consequence or reason, and it's just happening to move the story forward. It feels a like a platform to launch a new era of Preston and Logan adventures.
On the other side of this time-travelling narrative, Winter and Reeves take their own journey in a back-and-forth adventure to meet various incarnations of themselves in order to try and obtain the song of the future. But, sadly, it all just is one big SNL skit where they get to dress up in amusing costumes and act a little crazier to talk to themselves in a few less-than-amusing skits and sketches.
While Winter is a real blast as Bill and doesn't seem to have lost his zest for the character, Reeves still struggles to replicate the character that really made him known to a generation, wooden in places and lacking the energy he once had. It's fun to see them together, but again, only for the nostalgia factor. Reeves has pretty much eclipsed this sort of role now, and will only be seen and remembered for his recent roles of John Wick and Neo; the more mature, action orientated character rather than a youthful amusing one.
Even new additions Anthony Carrigan as Dennis, a robot from the future, and Kristen Schaal as Kelly, the daughter of Rufus, fail to be anything memorable or worthwhile bringing to the series. Kelly simply takes the role of the late George Carlin as Rufus and Dennis is no Reaper. And on that note, it's Sadler as said cantankerous, bitter Grim Reaper who provides the most comical of nostalgic hits sparring off against his former band-mates and getting back on the bass.
Production wise, we have plenty of CGI to replicate the future, but also some decent practical sets and locations for the travels through time, all the way from the Stone Age to Ancient China and Hell. It's just a shame that the story is so shallow and lacking of anything new that the 85min run-time is nothing but warranted. Even with a climax as predictable and convenient as this one, despite a toe-tapping musical output, is nothing new.
It's not overly amusing and lacks the energy and originality that made their "Excellent Adventure" so much fun.
This is a film that doesn't know what it wants to be, and proves that nostalgia isn't always enough of a reason to bring back something that worked decades ago for a quick fix.
'Bill & Ted Face The Music' is an Orion Pictures / Hammerstone Studios / Tin-Rez Entertainment production