A most excellent sequel, indeed!
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is the longtime coming threequel to the original “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” from 1989. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves reprise their titular roles, as the duo must write a song to save the universe and reality as we know it. Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, and Holland Taylor join the cast, while Dean Parisot directs.
Long-delayed sequels rarely work out, and even less with comedies. You have to look no further than “Zoolander,” “Anchorman,” or “Finding Dory;” at worst these are abysmal follow-ups with no justification for their existence, at best they’re amusing sequels to an IP from 10+ years earlier in hopes of grabbing some nostalgia dollars. However sometimes delayed reunions can play out in a film’s favor, like “Die Hard 4,” “Scream 4” or this year’s “Bad Boys for Life” (I wasn’t a huge fan but many were). And as someone who really enjoyed my recent watch of the original 1989 film (I haven’t seen 1991’s “Bogus Journey”), I’m pleased to say “Face the Music” brings the same dumb jokes and lovable positivity to the table.
Ever since their last team-up in 1991, Keanu Reeves and Alex Winters have taken different Hollywood paths. Reeves exploded into a star, leading blockbusters like “Speed” and “The Matrix,” while Winters slowly backed away from acting to pursue documentary filmmaking. You could never tell the pair had been apart for 29 years, much less that one of them hadn’t done any serious acting in years. The two still play their guitar-shredding “excellent!” surfer bro selves, and while they can say dumb things it is never overtly off-putting; it’s meant in good nature, and feels like something a human genuinely would say. At a few points Winters’ deliver seems off (he did take acting classes to fine-tune his craft before this), but Reeves often looks like a kid in a candy store returning to this role, and taking a break from killing men with pencils in the “John Wick” franchise.
The rest of the cast is a who’s who, mixing cameos from previous cast members (like Hal Landon Jr.) with new faces (like Kid Cudi). At points it feels like an actor’s directorial pet project that their friends decide to shoot a scene for, but the film uses everyone enough (mostly).
The plot is simple yet strangely convoluted, with Bill and Ted needing time find a reality-saving song from their future selves, their wives (Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) looking at possible futures for themselves, and Bill and Ted’s daughters (Samara Weaving and a perfectly-cast-as-Keanu’s-daughter Brigette Lundy-Paine) have to collect famous musicians from throughout history to play the song.
For what it is, there’s not much wrong with “Bill & Ted Face the Music” if you know what you’re getting into. If you never liked of the originals then this won’t be the one to convert you, but fans (especially those who grew up on this series and are now essentially revisiting an old friend) will be pleased, and fans of silly and light humor should get a kick, too.
Critics Rating: 8/10