Welcome back Wyld Stallyns! Nearly thirty years after their last big-screen outing, Bill and Ted (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) have dusted off their guitars, phone box and are ready to rock.
And so was I. Fresh from watching Channel 5’s commemorative screenings of 1989’s Excellent Adventure and 1991’s Bogus Journey (shame on you if you missed them), Bill & Ted Face the Music was to provide not only another trip down memory lane, but also my first outing to the cinema since you-know-what.
However, as San Dimas’ finest have aged somewhat, and this being a long-awaited third instalment, I went in more hopeful than expectant – somewhere between bodacious and bogus would suffice.
Thankfully, it delivered more towards the former.
Our heroes’ fortunes have plummeted somewhat since we last saw them, although they now both have daughters, Wilhelmina (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Theodora (Samara Weaving). Among the other new additions to the cast is Holland Taylor, of Two and a Half Men fame, as ‘The Great Leader’.
The dialogue doesn’t quite match up to the first two films, as the writing lacks a certain sharpness and any genuine standout moments. Neither is there the cutting-edge that helped its predecessors attain cult-like status, but what it does do well is the heart-warming and uplifting – just the tonic for 2020. There’s also some great subliminal messages, plus the soundtrack is, as always, of the highest order.
Whether it was social media pressure or the revival of Reeves’ own career that got the project moving is hotly-debated, but one thing for certain is that Face the Music was a work of passion. Now, these can go horribly wrong, but solid performances and the relatively short running time means that it avoids the trap of self-indulgence, and therefore never becomes a parody of itself.
With so many faces from the first two movies making appearances, it’s almost like a reunion. William Sadler reprising his role as the Grim Reaper is particularly welcome, and the entire cast are clearly enjoying themselves. Face the Music is some way short of triumphant, in fact it’s probably best to knock off the half-star if you’re not a fan, but – to sound most un-Californian – it’s bloody good fun nonetheless.
It’s highly unlikely that we’ll catch them later in a fourth instalment, nor should we want to, as this would be a fitting note on which to bid farewell to Theodore Logan and William S. Preston, Esq.