“Bill & Ted Face the Music” might be the only film in history that can boast about the fact that it contains a duet between Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Daniel Dorr). It is for that very reason that it’s also gained the right to refer to Mozart as “Wolfie.” Historical blasphemy aside, director Dean Parisot’s latest iteration of the Wyld Stallyns’ cosmic crusades stands as a cheery celebration of life, music and buffoonery.
The time is now and the once-celebrated musicians of yesteryear find themselves playing free gigs at their relatives’ weddings, desperately trying to fulfill the pressure-mounting prophecy, which was featured in the first film, that one day they would write the song that “united the universe.” Having tried every instrument known to man, they’re grasping at straws as they try stitching together the hums of a theremin to the wailing of bagpipes in a mish-mash of noise that lands somewhere between MGMT and Stereolab. It’s clear that Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are stuck in the past, trying to fulfill the outlandish goals of juvenile reveries and rekindle the flame of fame the name Wyld Stallyns used to evoke.
Screenwriter Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson are clearly in on the joke, upping the ridiculousness-factor of their woebegone protagonists by having them traverse time and encounter alternate versions of themselves that comedically riff on the multitude of 80s rock-stars that rusted with time. As the film progresses, the encounters get all the sadder, reaching a point of poignancy as Bill and Ted inevitably face versions of themselves stuck in a retirement home after years of drinking and debt. But, every tragedy’s a comedy and every comedy’s a tragedy, so it only makes sense that this seemingly dismal tale of dying rock-stars chugs along with a hearty chuckle in each step, reaching a distinguished point of irreverence that bestows Death itself with a sense of hilarity, emphasizing his personification as a hilariously frustrated bass-player.
It’s moments like these that make “Bill & Ted Face the Music” shine: Mozart pied-piping Ling Lun (Sharon Gee); a killer-robot having a nervous breakdown and rebranding himself as Dennis Caleb McCoy (Anthony Carrigan) as he begins taking steps towards becoming a dancer; and most importantly, Reeves’ uttering the expressions “Tallyho” and “Poppycock” with an outlandish English accent while fitted in pirate garments à la David Bowie. The film’s unabashedly silly and if you’re willing to engage in its featherbrained antics, you’re bound to fly quite high.
Owning its cheesy, Syfy Channel special-effects and Shakespeare-by-way-of-Slater dialogue, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” stands as that rare type of film where anything goes, everyone’s smiling and despite not being there for a long time, it’s there for a good time. With a pace that unravels at breakneck pace as Bill, Ted and their daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), race against time in their attempts to string together the best band ever to record the best song ever before time and space cease to exist altogether. The film manages to inject every moment with an ever-present emotion, whether that be wonder, glee or pathos. It’s guitar-riffs galore as Bill, Ted, Billie and Thea jump across time and space with an ever-enthusiastic timbre despite the dire state of the universe.
This lighthearted tone speaks to the Californian sense of chill and cheeriness each and every member of the cast brings to the table, especially Lundy-Paine and Weaving as Bill and Ted’s daughters. The universe might be at stake, but this is a “Bill and Ted” flick after all and if you’re not air-riffing when Billie and Thea show Louis Armstrong an iPhone video of Jimi Hendrix delivering a groovy solo, well, let’s just say this movie might not be for you.
Injecting the franchise with a fresh sense-of-self, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” preaches its message of merry unity for the masses in a mere 84 minutes. Packed with music and mirth, “dudes” and drum solos, robots and princesses, “Bill & Ted Face the Music” is pure, distilled entertainment for those seeking senseless escapism during a time of seemingly endless confinement.
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