Bill & Ted Face the Music

 

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Now that Bill and Ted are in their fifties, their third outing proves most bogus.

 
Bill & Ted Face the Music

No. Way: Ted and Bill

 

Here’s the deal: the universe is unravelling and time is folding in on itself. In fact, reality itself is about to implode unless Bill and Ted can write a song to stop it. The problem is, Bill and Ted couldn’t write a song to save the universe – which is very problematic indeed. Thirty-one years ago, when Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure survived the critics’ barbs to become an unexpected hit, Keanu Reeves had never made a sequel. Then came Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, The Matrix Reloaded and John Wick: Chapter 2. Here, Keanu reprises his role as Ted Logan, erstwhile teenage meathead who was catapulted through time in order to aid his history exam. But where a mentally defective teenager may have appealed to a certain undemanding demographic, his middle-aged counterpart is just sad and embarrassing. Bill Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted now have children of their own and remain under the illusion that they can make music. It’s a cruel twist of fate, then, that the future of mankind is entrusted to these imbeciles trapped in the 1980s and their ongoing, misguided self-belief. Sadder still, they have passed on their outmoded jargon and head-nodding idiocy to their 24-year-old daughters, Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) and Billie Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine).

 

Where the first film displayed a modicum of novelty in its mix and match of historical figures (Joan of Arc is mistaken for the daughter of Noah), the threequel’s only redeeming notion is to provide more of the same. This time it’s Billie and Thea who take it upon themselves to dart around the centuries to round up the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and, on harpsichord, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – to comprise a totally awesome backing band. Alas, even this musical sideshow resembles little more than a rejected sketch from the archives of Monty Python. And the cultural appropriation will make the woke choke on their herbal tea. In fact, a caveat at the beginning of the Blu-Ray for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure now warns that it, “reflects historical attitudes which audiences may find outdated or offensive.”

 

Face the Music hasn’t moved on much, although there is a last-minute stab at embracing a note of inclusiveness and diversity. And this time the girls are almost as dumb and dumberer as their dads. There’s something creepy, too, to see the 56-year-old Keanu with his dyed black hair behaving like a developmentally challenged teenager. Still, in his various futuristic incarnations, the actor does get to don a fat suit while swigging a bottle of vodka (as if his life depended on it). And there’s a caveat here, too, in the form of an inscription on an old pocket watch that declares, “sometimes things don’t make sense until the end of the story.” Unfortunately, it merely reminds us of the ingenious complexity of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, a time-travelling mind trip that didn’t treat its audience like idiots.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

CastKeanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Amy Stoch, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler, Jillian Bell, Hal Landon Jr, Dave Grohl, DazMann Still, Jeremiah Craft, Daniel Dorr, Sharon Gee, Patty Anne Miller.

 

Dir Dean Parisot, Pro Scott Kroopf, Alex Lebovici, David Haring, Steve Ponce, Ed Solomon and Alex Winter, Screenplay Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, Ph Shelly Johnson, Pro Des Melanie Jones, Ed Don Zimmerman, Music Mark Isham, Costumes Jennifer Starzyk.

 

Orion Pictures/Endeavor Content/Hammerstone Studios-Warner Bros.

91 mins. USA/Canada/Italy. 2020. Rel: 16 September 2020. Cert. PG.