It’s been twenty-five long years since destiny came calling for William S “Bill” Preston, Esq and Theodore “Ted” Logan outside the San Dimas Circle K; they passed their history test with a little help from their friends, married the medieval babes Joanna and Elizabeth, went to Hell and back with the Grim Reaper, but somehow they never quite became what Rufus told them they would be.
Their albums relegated to bargain bins, the Wyld Stallyns have reverted to the duo of Bill and Ted who play two-dollar Taco nights and perform experimental Theremin and bagpipe concept pieces at weddings, the marriage of Ted’s younger brother Deacon to his former stepmother Missy as convoluted as a family tree can be without time travel.
They may have stagnated, but time continues to move forwards as it should – until Rufus’ daughter Kelly arrives from the future to inform them that unless they write the song which was prophesised to unite the world in harmony and perform it at precisely 7:17 that night then all of time and space will collapse in on itself, the discordant prelude already manifesting in strange phenomena.
Although not released until 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure was actually shot in 1987 so it is an astonishing thirty-three years since Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves first performed together as the iconic duo, and while Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was produced swiftly in the aftermath of the unexpected success of that first trip through time, Bill & Ted Face the Music has been a long time coming.
Written again by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon but this time directed by Galaxy Quest‘s Dean Parisot, Winter and Reeves are joined by Kristen Schaal as Kelly, Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes as the Princesses Joanna and Elizabeth, and more importantly by Samara Weaving as Theadora “Thea” Preston and Brigette Lundy-Paine as Wilhelmina “Billie” Logan, while Hal Landon Jr, Amy Stoch and William Sadler reprise their roles as Captain Jonathan Logan, Missy and the Grim Reaper.
Getting the band back together after so long was always going to be a problem, and in many ways Face the Music fits in the groove of the original Excellent Adventure in that it is an assembly of historic figures, this time influential and ground breaking musicians, though it is Thea and Billie who undertake that task as Bill and Ted themselves are tied up attempting to unravel their own uncertain futures and the consequences of their actions – and inactions.
A dropped noodle bowl of convolutions and causality, Face the Music is never as epic as the premise suggest, particularly lacking a lively soundtrack, but it is low-key rather than off-key, and despite the decades since the Wyld Stallyns last played it feels like they have never been away, Winters and Reeves returning to their mannerisms and friendships as though they have always been together, just off the radar in the lower reaches of the charts.
With many long-after-the-fact sequels little more than an awkward cash-grab built on nostalgia, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a genuine rarity, both a completely authentic sequel and the concluding part of a trilogy, wrapping up the themes and characters of the first two and establishing a new dimension should the band choose to go forward.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is currently on general release