The world is in crisis; who better than Bill and Ted to turn the world’s frown’s upside down? After a three decade lay-off, it’s a case of bringing out the big guns, particularly since star Keanu Reeves has been on a hot streak ever since, but gratitude is in order; this fresh offering completes a trilogy that needed completion. While the scenes with Death in Bogus Journey were the breakout scenes of the film, the sequel was patchier that the original, and Face the Music manages to sort things out and show off the sub-Back to the Future formula to its best effect.
Of course, the ending of Bogus Journey didn’t leave much room for manoeuvre; Bill and Ted become rock-gods, and write the best song ever, uniting the world. So there’s a sizeable act of ret-conning required to bring things back to a manageable narrative; much like the opening of Ted, we’re required to believe that the earth-shattering events we saw slip back to everyday mundane-ity, and that Bill and Ted, now married and with teenage daughters, are washed up and desperate to re-capture past glories. Kelly (Kristen Schaal) the daughter of sage Rufus, returns to tell Bill and Ted that the world will end unless they complete their song; the two head forward in time to interrogate various future Bill and Teds as to the nature of what that song might be, while their daughters travel backwards to put together a band for the ages, with agreed geniuses Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart and, erm, Kid Cudi along for the ride.
Bill and Ted purists, if they exist, might balk at the idea of a female Bell and Ted; switching sex didn’t do much for Ghostbusters or Ocean’s 11. But in truth, Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine do a most excellent job as Billie and Thea, capturing the mannerisms of their dads in a way that sparks mirth. For once, you’d be happy to see the new characters take centre stage in a spin-off, and the fresh emphasis on a female perspective deftly deals with the comic homophobia of the earlier films. And while Reeves and Winter effortlessly pick up where they left off, the comic highlight is once again the re-union with Death (William Sandler), grouchy that he’s never been given his due for playing in Bill and Ted’s band. Pop-ups include Weird Al, Dave Grohl, Jillian Bell and Beck Bennett and others, but Dean Parisot wisely avoids making these adventures too cameo-tastic; other comics who reply on familiar faces instead of jokes should take note.
It’ll be hard to beat Bill and Ted’s Face the Music for 2020’s best comedy, because there’s precious little competition; the art of the Hollywood light comedy is lost, and so it’s a relief to say that yes, there are jokes here, and yes, they are funny, from Ted’s attempt to play the bagpipes to the best-song-ever which marks the film’s climax. The Bill and Ted series will endure as pop-culture classics, and this entry doesn’t let the brand down; it’s most awesome, totally non-bogus, and has a positive message. So put our troubles and differences aside, and let’s be EXCELLENT to each other!