Review: Bill & Ted Face The Music

Director: Dean Parisot

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving

There are certain projects that have ran through the rumour mill or development hell for so long that none of us really thought they’d come to fruition. That belated Twins sequel where Eddie Murphy crops up as the long-lost triplet. The original cut of Hellraiser: Bloodline. A fourth Indiana Jones film. But, unlike the aforementioned (none of which have surfaced), the trilogy-capping third Bill & Ted movie has finally made it to us in tact.

It brings with it both excitement and some apprehension. Belated sequels don’t have an outstanding reputation. However, with Galaxy Quest director Dean Parisot at the helm, the level of ease with which we’re invited to slip back into old habits is indeed most welcome. It helps that the original writers resume their most excellent duties.

We rejoin our bodacious heroes in our present. Much has changed… but a lot has stayed the same. Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves; looking like Snape’s more amiable brother) are still living in suburban San Dimas, still married to the princesses, still coasting through life. But Wyld Stallyns haven’t changed the world. Indeed, their musical career has slunk to a standstill. Then – blip! – Rufus’ daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) zooms them into the future to fulfill their destiny, write the song that’ll unify mankind and save all of reality.

Woah.

For a third film that has landed nearly 30 years removed from it’s forebearers, Face The Music is surprisingly, pleasingly svelte. Exposition is blown through breezily, new stakes are hammered home efficiently and convoluted time travel paradox theories are made digestible in a manner that Christopher Nolan might want to go to school on (turns out you just need Kid Cudi). Face The Music acknowledges that things need to change, but it sticks comfortably to formula, remixing elements of both prior adventures. While Bill and Ted head into the future to steal their own song, their daughters Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving) plunder the past for great musicians. Later on, some totally bogus developments lead our heroes into the afterlife, reuniting them with Death (serial scene-stealer William Sadler). Such déjà vu doesn’t read as derivative, however. Nor does it feel like nostalgia for the sake of it. Instead, it solidifies the relationship between all three films, stitching together the ‘universe’ of these pictures.

New elements are also most pleasing. Not only do Lundy-Paine and Weaving point toward the possibility of further adventures for a new audience, Face The Music also introduces an amusing new robot character played by Anthony Carrigan. Not only a funny addition, but an impressive piece of character design, make-up and costuming. And that’s another thing; CG may make the film’s effects a little smoother than previously realised, but an effort has been made to unify the aesthetic of this movie with the two that came before it. One imagines that sitting down to a marathon of all three wouldn’t necessarily incur a sudden tonal jump after finishing up part two.

When Bill & Ted first rocked our cinemas, the world seemed pretty fraught. Nobody knew the Cold War was soon to end and that the Berlin Wall would fall. The dopey optimism of the piece – that the future would be bright – chimed with a collective yearning for that to be true. Face The Music finds us wishing this even more so, and runs with the same sense of anxiety. That infectious optimism is wrapped up in a running theme of collaboration and multiculturalism and comes to fruition in ways that are most pleasing. Togetherness and inclusivity – key ingredients of this franchise – can be churlish things to manifest on screen. They can come off a little cornball. A little cheesy. Good thing all that slacker attitude imbues the message which such affable charm. And as much as Face The Music embraces and interweaves the old, it also allows our heroes to make a positive change where – and when – it counts.

The future is always a work in progress.

 

 

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