I have a soft spot in my heart for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s a movie that’s so joyously absurd, you can’t help but feel pure happiness while watching it. And, honestly, in this already very chaotic period of time, a little joyful absurdity feels much-needed. The third film is one that’s been in the works for a while, with the second installment of this time-traveling trilogy being released back in 1991. Now, the long-awaited third film is finally out, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. With Galaxy Quest Director Dean Parisot at the helm and the previous two film’s screenwriters, Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson, returning, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a most excellent send-off for the Wyld Stallyns. Led by charismatic performances and a script that relishes in the goofy humor that made the first film such a hit, Face the Music is the wholesome dose of pure joy we need right now.
The movie kicks off with our two, now middle-aged, time-traveling heroes (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) as they grapple with a number of life-changing situations. They haven’t been able to find the song that will unite the universe, the band’s success was fleeting, and their marriages are on the rocks. Regardless of these struggles, though, they’ve still managed to keep hope alive, and are strongly supported by their daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving). However, it’s not just their lives that are facing some challenges. One day, Bill and Ted are visited by a young woman from the future named Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of Rufus, who tells them that their time to write the universe-uniting song is running out. If they aren’t able to write it in roughly 75 minutes, life as we know it will crumble.
Panicked and frantically trying to figure out what exactly this spectacular tune is, the two come up with a grand idea to travel into the future to steal the idea from their older selves, setting them off on another time-traveling adventure that reveals more to them about their lives than expected. This is a mission they can’t do alone, though, so Billie and Thea also decide to head out on their own time-traveling adventure - helping them out by gathering some of the greatest musicians in history to put together a life-altering ensemble for their dads. It’s during these time-hopping points that some fantastic cameos make their way into the film as well.
What makes Face the Music so great is its ability to roll with the punches. Solomon and Matheson stayed true to the wonderfully ridiculous characters they initially created in 1989 while still finding little ways to show how they’ve developed over the years (or maybe still need to). Both Winter and Reeves still flourish in these roles as well. It’s evident that they still have an abundance of love for these characters, perfectly embodying their goofy personalities with a friendship that feels like a natural continuation from the previous films.
Although Reeves and Winter remain the story’s titular pillars, the biggest standouts of the film for me were Weaving and Lundy-Paine as Thea and Billie, respectively. The latter of whom delivers an incredible performance that feels like a carbon-copy of young Reeves. Even Weaving effortlessly fills the shoes of this new character, which is truly no surprise as she continues to dominate roles in nearly every movie or show that she’s in (Ready or Not, Hollywood, Three Billboards, etc.). Billie and Thea are characters that are extremely likable from the get-go, bringing their own personality traits to the table while still remaining grounded in the very simple, hilarious, and bubbly personas that Bill and Ted captured audiences with in the first place. To me, there is truly no one else who could have portrayed these characters, and I would happily see a Billie & Thea movie in a heartbeat.
Traveling-through-time-to-save-the-universe plotline aside, Face the Music also sees Bill and Ted maturing in a number of ways - embracing adulthood while maintaining that joyful lack of cynicism they’ve had since being teenagers. These are two guys who have carried, quite literally, the weight of the universe on their shoulders, and not only does this film bring that quest to a perfect close, but it does so with a more emotional and grounded tone than the two previous films. Face the Music shows how Bill and Ted have grown up in their own way. They’re still goofy and a little co-dependent with one another but can recognize where there’s still personal work to be done. It all feels natural for these characters and the world within Bill & Ted. This is all due to Parisot’s fantastic direction, which gives brief glimpses into these moments while still maintaining lighthearted energy. It also allows the story to glide seamlessly from one riotous plot point to another, keeping a steady pace and maintaining viewer interest up until its final moments.
All around, there’s a sweetness to this journey that Bill and Ted share. It’s one that’s very rarely seen in movies nowadays and feels desperately needed. Face the Music is a cheerful palette cleanser that shines a much-needed light in this very dark period of time. Although uniting the universe feels like a monumental task now, watching the Wyld Stallyns do so in their own little world feels like a breath of fresh air. So, be safe and enjoy this wonderful trilogy-ender. And remember: be excellent to each other.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is rated PG-13 and is available to watch TODAY on demand and in select theaters.