After an absence of nearly thirty years, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan make their triumphant return in Bill & Ted Face the Music. And not a moment too soon—our totally bogus reality could benefit from a dose of their innocence and optimism.
Although our hapless heroes are now a pair of middle-aged fathers, they remain the same lovable, dim-witted slackers that captured the hearts and minds of a generation back in 1989. That’s good for diehard fans of the franchise, but extremely bad for the fate of the universe: despite the duo’s most valiant efforts, they still haven’t performed the epic song that will unite mankind—and should they fail to finally fulfill their destiny, the very fabric of existence itself will unravel. Thus, Wyld Stallyns embarks on one last excellent adventure, simultaneously traveling through and racing against time in search of the inspiration they need to save the future, San Dimas, and their troubled marriages—with more than a little help from their daughters, a neurotic robot assassin, and some of history’s most influential musicians.
In terms of its style, craft, and production values, Bill & Ted Face the Music is… rough around the edges, to phrase it generously; the flat compositions and inert camerawork are just barely better than what you might find on network television, and it’s painfully obvious that much of the movie was shot in front of a green screen. And yet… that scrappy, laid-back attitude has always been an integral part of the series’ DNA (from its blatant use of stock footage to its theme park interpretations of Abe Lincoln and Genghis Khan), contributing to its innate charm.
And even if you disregard that (admittedly rather significant) caveat, there’s still plenty to savor: the overarching plot serves as a heartwarming tribute to the late George Carlin, and Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter both get the opportunity to demonstrate their versatility by playing multiple alternate versions of their characters. What truly elevates the film, however, is its familiar—but no less relevant—message: “Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!”
A naïve philosophy? Perhaps. But considering the current state of the world, the implicit call-to-action also feels absolutely necessary.