Directed By Dean Parisot
Starring – Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal
The Plot – Once told they’d save the universe during a time-traveling adventure, 2 would-be rockers (Reeves, Winter) from San Dimas, California find themselves as middle-aged dads still trying to crank out a hit song and fulfill their destiny.
Rated PG-13 for some adult language
– Rocking dudes. It’s an obvious statement, but this film’s promiscuity rests solely on the shoulders of its titular charismatic duo, and even though it’s been nearly thirty years since their previous installment, Reeves and Winter transform seamlessly before our very eyes. The chemistry between them is never a question, bouncing off of one another with spirited personality that includes them finishing each other’s sentences above all else, but it’s the amplified energy that each bring to the role that solidifies this feeling of a dream reunion between them, giving this pivotal third chapter the kind of respect it rightfully deserves. Reputable new additions include Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Payne as the next generation of their father figures, Schaal as this guardian of sorts with a familiar kin of her own, and enough big name cameos from the many flavors of rock and roll paying their respects to the two silver screen founding prophets.
– Consistent humor. Much of the film’s comedic material remains faithful to the effective formula made popular during the first two movies, but does so without suffering from the many levels of sequelitis that typically damns these movies before they even begin. While there are familiar characters and brief instances recalled from past movies, none of the material here ever encroaches on the precedent in material set by the previous films. This means no jokes ever repeat or borrow to prolong its punchline’s lifespan thanks in whole to the blessing of nostalgia by its fans. Instead, the newfound gags here focus almost entirely on the twisted extended family tree between these two best buds, as well as zero in on the awkwardness of two aging dads still trying to keep up with their hip daughters. It picks a specific angle that hasn’t been done before, and generates the laughs with a series of dry deliveries that constantly feels one step ahead of our dual protagonists, yet neck and neck with the replay value of its previous chapters.
– Entirely necessary. This is especially pivotal to a sequel taking place three decades later, because most franchises cash in and rest on the laurels of a name alone. “Bill and Ted Face the Music” doesn’t suffer the same fate, as the group’s long-awaited desire to write a song that will bring the world together comes full circle as the prime focus in this story’s narrative. This plot not only grants the movie key stakes in the balance of the world it depicts, but also feels socially relevant when contrasted to the world we interpret beyond the safety net of the silver screen. It prescribes infectious escapism during a year when its audience demands nothing more, and offers an emotionally stirring climatic last chapter to these legendary best friends whose harmless intent to play music gives their lives and ours meaning again.
– Short and sweet. This movie is one of the easier cinematic experiences that I have had in quite sometime, and a lot of that is in its honest expectations, which keep the movie air tight from letting a single ounce of momentum slip between the cracks. Clocking in at a measly 82 minutes of screen time is refreshing enough for a movie that knows what it rightfully is and should be, but keeping the flow of the story persistently paced throughout gives every exchange meaning to either the plot or to us the audience basking in these once in a lifetime rare meetings between these icons of music. Not only was this movie constantly entertaining, but it capably held my attention throughout this time traveling adventure, cementing its status as one of the only films this year where I feel like it is the perfect length of time to the integrity of the picture.
– Sleek presentation. For a movie with as many unfamiliar studios fronting its miniscule 25 million dollar budget, this third in the trilogy of movies supplants what I believe is its most stylistically pleasing presentation of the entire franchise, welcoming it to the era of computer generation with some fantastical approaches. Entire computer generated backgrounds, exploding neon illumination decorating the stage from an assortment of musical instruments, and even artificial characters brought to life with post production influence offer a sturdy transition that would be beautiful enough in almost any movie they accompany, but ten times more effective when imbedded in a film that I wasn’t expecting to have them. Not everything is exceptionally realized with believability, but I think those occasionally faulty outlines do the mayhem inside of the plot a valuable service to capturing the lunacy of everything entailed, preserving an out of world experience that is worth every penny.
– Family element. I find it funny that the same men who grew up adoring the Bill and Ted movies are more than likely now fathers in a much bigger picture. I mention this because it mirrors what transpires in the film, where Bill and Ted are now fathers to their own children, all the while following the dreams that have alluded both of them. Similar to parenthood and the movie alike, there comes a time when those dreams become someone else’s dreams, and the scene where this takes place easily became my favorite of the entire movie, in a torch-passing moment that bares the selflessness of the older generation. In this respect, the movie is a bit of a slice of life film where we see our protagonists grow before our very eyes, and take on a destiny that neither of them saw possible when they were rocking a six string, and quite literally knocking on death’s door.
– Real time. One unique aspect to the movie’s creativity that I commended it for was a literal ticking clock that has dual meaning when compared between the audience and our spirited duo. For the latter, it establishes urgency in the form of a doomsday clock that Bill and Ted sprint against in order to create the perfect song, but for us the audience the same numbers being shown frequently throughout replicate just how much time remains in the movie for our experience. This is an angle that has been done before, blurring the line between two respective time frames that merge together as one, but none with the kind of proximity that mirrors it down to the very second that we’re progressing through. It makes it easier to invest and immerse ourselves in the conflict of the plot, but more than that it allows us to be the timekeepers in our heroes adventure, where we know the extent of their mission before even they do.
– Thin characterization. This is particularly in the two daughter characters of Bill and Ted, who I feel don’t fit particularly well within the context of the narrative. That’s not to say that Weaving and Lundy-Payne don’t do a fine job in their performances, but rather they are given so very little to work with creatively that makes them stand out from anything other than a cartoon clone of their respective father figures. In fact, long before the movie eventually reveals the girls’ big purpose in this movie, so very little about them is revealed in personality that it feels almost like a strained stretch once they are called upon to serve a bigger purpose, thus cutting Bill and Ted’s arc momentarily too short for my disdain. I more than understand the purpose of this direction, as I alluded to it earlier in my positives, but I wish the screenplay went for more moments of personal reflection between two characters who are plagued with living out their fathers’ dreams.
– Faulty editing. Easily the weakest aspect of the movie’s production stems from the pasting of scenes and sequences pasted together, which brings forth no shortage of continuity errors. One such scene involves Kid Cudi (Yes, that Kid Cudi) during the film’s climatic concert sequence, where in one scene he’s on stage playing with his famous bandmates, and in the immediate next cut he’s off-stage discussing psychological theories with Bill and Ted. There’s plenty more similar instances to this one that I won’t spoil, but plenty of other problems with the editing that made this a jarring watch at times. Some deal with cutting too early before a character has finished discussing something pivotally important, others involve too many cuts in between, which often disjoint the scene towards feeling overly complicated in its presentation. This is the lone aspect where a cheap production finally catches up to the movie’s integrity, and makes for several key moments of jumbled dissection that constantly withdrew me from simply just enjoying the movie.
– Lack of music. It’s a bit strange that a movie with the word “Music” in the title, as well as two characters in love with the spectacle of rock and roll, doesn’t include more than a few songs to include from a soundtrack that outside of the film is lethal in its expansive offerings. Most of the musical accompaniment is just background musical score filler that is every bit forgettable as it is uninspiring for its stock music cues lacking depth. Aside from this, there’s one song in the entirety of the picture, not counting the convoluted clashing of instruments meant to articulate “The song” that they sought after all this time. It’s a major disappointment for a music-first movie, and leaves out so many possibilities for material in an 80’s/90’s duo colliding with today’s less than stellar rock and roll forefront.
My Grade: 7/10 or B-