Aug 292020
four reels

Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) have reached middle age without having written the song that will create utopia. They have no song, no band, no jobs, no prospects, and even their marriages to the princesses Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) are fraying. One bright spot is their daughters, Thea (Samara Weaving) who is the second most adorable person ever born, and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) who is the most adorable person ever born. That’s not specified in the story, but it’s a great truth: they are unbelievably adorable. Things get worse for Bill and Ted when they are summoned into the future by Rufus’s daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) where they are told if they don’t find the song within the day, reality will come apart. With no inspiration, the pair travel through time to meet their older selves to try and learn the song from themselves while their daughters seek the finest musicians of all time to make the band they think their fathers’ need.

This is the greatest movie ever made.

Am I over praising it? Absolutely. But this is the movie we need now. This is its time. If there’s ever been a more perfect fit for a film with reality, I don’t know it. Perhaps it won’t end up as the best film of the year, but it will be THE film of the year.

In this miserable time, filled with hate and doom and surrounded by loneliness, there’s been no cinema for nearly six months. Nothing. A huge gaping void to go with the huge gaping void which has been life, and Bill and Ted come along to fill it.

Let’s see if this sounds familiar. The world is falling apart. Life isn’t what one thought it would be. There’s anger and despair and everything seems pointless. Dreams have been lost. Seems a lot like 2020. But there is an solution. It’s really simple while being as deep as philosophy gets. But here’s where Face the Music diverges from our reality: In the film it’s clear they are going to adopt that solution. I’m not so hopeful for reality. But for 90 minutes, I can join Bill & Ted & Thea & Billie and live in that solution, and wow, did I need that. We all need that.

biilted3Outside of that, you know what you’re getting with Face the Music. It’s funny and fast-paced, with reasonable production values. That is, it’s a good sequel, and very much like its two predecessors, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991). It has a lot of call-backs to the earlier films, but they are all welcome and nothing is over done. It’s shifted only slightly in that the first two films were mildly heartwarming where this one might have you hugging your loved ones as your heart grows two sizes.

Reeves can still manage being Ted while encompassing change and disappointment. Winter is even better as Bill—so much the same, but aged, and with a twinkle that’s missing from his companion (and they play with that). But the standouts are Weaving and Lundy-Paine. I was perfectly happy to spend time with Bill and Ted, but Thea and Billie were even more delightful. Spin them off into their own feature and I’m there. They felt not only like the future of the “franchise,” but like the future itself.

If our dismal civilization is going to make it, it will be due to Thea and Billie.

Removed from this place in history, Face the Music is a light and airy concoction. It’s silly, with no interest in treading new ground. It’s unlikely to spawn catch-phrases as the first did, nor win Academy awards. It’s a sweet, almost gentle picture, that wants nothing more than to remind you that love is good, things don’t have to be terrible, and maybe we should all just try being excellent to each other. In ten years this will be a likable enough film. But it isn’t ten years in the future. It’s now. And now, I love this movie.