Fans of the Bill & Ted series have been clamouring for a sequel to the original two films for decades, in fact, almost immediately after Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey found a more receptive audience on VHS after a fairly lacklustre theatrical run in 1991. The second film went in an increasingly surreal and metaphysical direction, which has only aged better in the subsequent years. Ever since 2010 a sequel has been in development from screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, but it wasn’t till 2018 that everything was greenlit.
Bill & Ted Face the Music picks up 29 years later, and Bill Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) have failed to write the song to unite the world. They have also spawned two equally music-obsessed, sweet but air-headed 20 something daughters, played brilliantly by Samara Weaving (Thea) and Brigette Lundy-Paine (Billie). As always with these films, the mission is through time and space, but this time the stakes are a little higher: they have to save humanity by writing that song at last, but also their marriages to those princess babes. Obviously, the daughters have their own adventure through time and space to help their dads.
First things first: the series has a consistency in tone that is frankly remarkable, given that all the films have had different directors. This must be down to Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who originated the characters as this schtick they did,and based them on themselves. Dean Parisot, who directed Face the Music, is probably best known for Galaxy Quest. Parisot is an inspired choice, because his comedic sensibilities are already well-tuned to Matheson, Soloman, Winter and Reeves’ wavelength. The script is predictable, and the film undoubtably peaks within the first 15 minutes of its wonderfully quick 90 minutes, but it’s so charming and funny that you will simply ignore any problems you might have with the film.
2020 needed comedies, but they were far and few between. That made Bill & Ted Face the Music the goofy comedy for the times, and it really delivered. It even has a very moving tribute to George Carlin, who sadly passed away in 2008. This was quite beautifully done, and gives it a poignancy that you wouldn’t expect from a Bill & Ted film. The later scenes of geriatric Bill & Ted also are helped by the heart that keeps the film beating nonstop. The film, especially in the future scenes, is a little too “green screeny” for my taste, but that’s the reality of making a high-concept comedy in a relatively low-budget: the film cost around $25 million. William Sadler reprises his role as Death, and some of the film’s funniest later scenes are in Hell. Fans of HBO’s Barry should take note of Anthony Carrigan as a very insecure killer robot that gives the film some of its biggest laughs.
Luckily for everybody involved, Bill & Ted Face the Music was one of the rare films that actually did reasonably well at the box-office in 2020, given the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. There are rumblings of a sequel around Thea and Billie, which given the chemistry between them could work a lot better than some of the gender-reversed sequels to pre-existing male franchises (for example, the 2016 Ghostbusters.) I would be down with it, but this is a very fitting finale to the saga of Bill & Ted if they don’t make a fourth instalment.
The disc isn’t loaded with extras, but you do get the Q&A at San Diego Comic-Con with the main cast, directors, screenwriters hosted by Kevin Smith, whose own Jay & Silent Bob wouldn’t exist without Bill & Ted paving the way. The rest of the extras are extremely short featurettes, with longest being one minute and 22 seconds.