Legacy sequels can be a difficult thing to pull off. You need to have respect and reverence for the original material, but not stray too far into fan service or parody, and there’s a temptation to just do the same thing all over again.
We’re lucky then that original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon have returned along with original stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Do the Wyld Stallyns travel through space and time again? Yes, but instead of trying to pass a history class, they end up examining their own lives.
You’re probably wondering if it’s good. Yes, yes it is. Is it as good as the originals? Yeah, I think it is.
As the film opens, it has been twenty-five years since the boys went on their bogus journey, and they still haven’t written the song that will unite the world and go on to form the basis of future society.
They’re called to the future to answer for this, informed that not only will their song become the basis of society it will also save reality from impending destruction. After confronting the fact that they don’t think they can write the song in the films remaining 77-minute runtime, they take the phone booth to the future to get the song from their future selves after they’ve written it.
If you’re wondering if the logic of time travel has been updated: no, it has not. It is a nice update to the formula that Bill and Ted are confronting themselves about the way their lives have gone, too. It would have been easy just to make the same movie again, and I’m pleased to report that they didn’t fully do that.
Concurrently with Bill and Ted going forward in time their daughters Theodora “Thea” Preston and Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan end up on an adventure back through time to assemble a most excellent band of historically significant artists. So they did also make the same movie again, is what I’m saying.
While it’s great to see Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves back as Bill and Ted, for me the highlight is their daughters. Samara Weaving and Brigitte Lundy-Paine are both having a great time in this, and their travelling back through time is a fun romp through musical history. Each of them brings the same fun, silly, dumb but sweet energy to the roles that Winter and Reeves did when they were young, but it’s Lundy-Paine who is the highlight of the show for me. They captured the same body language and aura of young Keanu Reeves.
Lundy-Paine’s performance could easily have been a caricature but instead is a pitch-perfect homage, and every time they were on screen, I found myself smiling.
Bill & Ted Face The Music is a fun follow up to a fun franchise. Is it perfect? No. I wish that the future looked like it did in Bogus Journey, I kind of wish the daughters had their own equivalent of the air guitar, and I feel like the princesses have been recast with fun actresses who are a little on the young side, but these are all minor nitpicks.
This movie is fun and dumb, but also sweet and wise in all the ways it should be. No, it’s not perfect, but neither is Bill and Ted, and neither are we. When they finally play the song that will unite humanity and save reality it turns out to be about who is playing it than what they are playing, which is in line with the Wyld Stallyns mantra; a mantra that in the year 2020 is one we could all stand to remember right now.
Be excellent to one another. And party on, dudes.