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Saturday, August 29, 2020

[Review] ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ Recaptures Lightning in a Bottle With an Excellent Journey Back to a Simpler Time

The majority of movies that had been set for release in 2020 became the victims of unfortunate circumstance when the COVID-19 pandemic made its way across the world early in the year, with many pushed off the calendar completely. Others were released right before theaters were forced to close their doors or are now coming along right when they’re attempting to re-open. Multiple big time movies that would’ve dominated the year under normal conditions ended up losing their spot, leaving most studios and filmmakers wishing their movies had been set for release in literally any other year. But for Orion and the team behind Bill & Ted Face the Music, the third installment in a franchise that had been lying dormant for nearly 30 years, their movie has come along at precisely the right time.

Written by franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), Bill & Ted Face the Music is the rare nostalgia-driven sequel that actually has a reason to exist beyond mere money-making. Picking up after the events of both Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey rather than retconning anything or hitting the reboot button with a fresh-faced new cast, Face the Music exists to answer the one big question the franchise left us pondering back in 1991: How exactly do these lovable goofballs bring world peace with their music?

Keanu Reeves is back as Ted and Alex Winter is back as Bill, with Face the Music finding the lead singers of the Wyld Stallyns on a new stage in their lives. Not only are they both fathers, with Samara Weaving playing Bill’s daughter and Brigette Lundy-Paine playing Ted’s, but they’re also struggling with the fact that they’ve thus far failed to live up to their destiny. And the stakes are raised in Face the Music, with the daughter of an old time-traveling friend informing them that the song they’re fated to write isn’t only going to create a Utopian future, it’s going to literally save the entire world. If they don’t fulfill their obligation to the world in a matter of hours, well, life as they know it will just plain cease to exist.

Cleverly allowing itself to be a storyline-completing sequel, a greatest hits reunion tour and a low-key female-led reboot all at once, Bill & Ted Face the Music sends the titular duo off on a journey through time that sees them trying to steal the world-saving song from themselves, while their daughters embark on their own journey through the history books in an attempt to put together an Avengers-style super group that can aid their dads in their quest. Through the latter storyline, Matheson and Solomon are able to tap into the history-hopping hijinks of Excellent Adventure, with Weaving’s Thea and Lundy-Paine’s Billie plucking musical greats out of their own time periods and bringing them into the present day. As for the weirder, darker aspects of Bogus Journey, don’t worry: they all end up in Hell… eventually.

Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine are both pitch perfectly cast as the daughters of two iconic pop culture characters, with Lundy-Paine in particular clearly having a blast channeling a young Keanu Reeves through both their body language and manner of speaking. Weaving, fresh off her star-making turn in Ready or Not, is ultimately underutilized given what genre fans know she’s capable of, though just as believable as Bill’s daughter as Lundy-Paine is as Ted’s daughter. They make for a lovable duo in their own right, and if there’s any future to the franchise beyond Face the Music, it rests squarely on their shoulders and theirs alone.

As for Bill and Ted themselves, while Face the Music does touch upon their struggles as middle-aged men who haven’t quite lived up to their potential – one particularly touching scene sees Ted letting Bill know he’s on the verge of selling his beloved guitar and giving up on his dreams entirely – the movie makes sure to never lose that uplifting spirit that made you fall in love with the characters in the first place. The stakes are higher and the characters are in a more serious place in their lives than we’ve ever seen them before, to be sure – and, for the first time, they actually seem to appreciate the gravity of their situation – but Face the Music ultimately has one goal and it’s the same goal that was woven into the very fabric of both Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey: to make you smile. This is feel-good movie-making through and through, and even at a time when all movies seem to be a whole lot more cynical and serious than they used to be, Face the Music is committed to transporting us back to that simpler time. With Reeves and Winter slipping back into their roles with ease, as if they never left the characters behind at all, the film has no trouble succeeding in that mission. And it almost feels of a different time, as if it was sent via magical phone booth from the 1980s to today. All the wholesome charm, joy and positive messaging very much in tact.

In addition to encountering multiple different versions of themselves, Bill and Ted also get around to reuniting with Death in Face the Music, with William Sadler reprising the fan-favorite character we first met in Bogus Journey. Staying true to that film’s end credits sequence and the information we gleaned from it, Death found himself embarking on a solo musical career in the wake of Bogus Journey‘s events, and let’s just say things didn’t work out exactly as planned. Sadler, like Reeves and Winter, slips right back into his role with no problem whatsoever, bringing an emotional depth to the Reaper’s return. And then there’s Anthony Carrigan as an evil robot with a humorously human name, a scene-stealer in his own right who threatens to run away with the whole movie the way Sadler did in Bogus Journey.

Driven by the same good-natured silliness of its two predecessors, and packed with all the convoluted time travel hijinks and out-of-place historical figures we’ve come to expect, Face the Music is undoubtedly a laugh-out-loud good time, but it also manages to be an emotionally powerful conclusion to the saga that figures out a way to wrap everything up with a most excellently uplifting bow. And while these feelings I’m feeling surely have as much to do with my own nostalgic attachment to the property as they do the tumultuous, most unpleasant times the movie is being released into, the fact remains that Face the Music just feels like the perfect movie that’s come along at the perfect time. If only for 90-minutes, it’s a healing balm that just may make you feel like everything’s going to be okay. And for a franchise that’s best personified by two oft-repeated mantras – “be excellent to each other” and “party on, dudes” – that makes Face the Music a rousing success, minor flaws, warts and wall.

Countless movies have attempted to recapture decades-old lightning in a bottle, but few have succeeded the way Bill & Ted Face the Music does. Nobody involved in its production needed to be there, least of all Keanu Reeves at the height of his John Wick success, but they clearly all *wanted* to be there, making precisely this movie at precisely this time. And that passion and love for the material is front and center every step of the way, as fun to watch as it probably was for the team to make. It’s silly escapism at a time when we could all use a bit of that, and you’d be hard pressed to find another 2020 movie that’s as truly joyous as this one. A 30-year-old sci-fi/comedy franchise is precisely what we needed in 2020. Go figure.

Best of all, you can watch it safely at home. Face the Music is now available on PVOD.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3629618/review-bill-ted-face-music-recaptures-lightning-bottle-excellent-journey-back-simpler-time/

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