By Leah Greenblatt
August 27, 2020 at 07:30 PM EDT
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Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020 Movie)

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Wyld Stallyns, apparently, couldn't keep them away. Thirty-one years on from their Excellent Adventure (and 29 since the less beloved Bogus Journey), the air-guitaring bards of San Dimas return in Bill & Ted Face the Music, and they have met that most heinous enemy, middle age.

The script at least does Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) one small, immediate kindness in their tale of whoa, rounding down the years to a mere 25 since the duo first found their destiny in a Circle K parking lot. Their mission, too, remains unchanged: to reharmonize the planet via the miracle of low-CGI time travel and the magic of song.

It may take a heavy squint to see the same scrappy California kids who first stepped into Excellent's enchanted phone booth, but the pair's dude-bro spirit remains — a few unsettling wrinkles and wig choices aside — delightfully undimmed. In fact, it's only been Xeroxed by fatherhood, in the form of Billie (Brigitte Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), two grown daughters cast almost entirely in their dads' daffy stoner image.

Bill and Ted Face the Music
Credit: Orion Pictures

The girls, with their smartphones and shortie overalls, do make some concessions to modern times. And so in its own loony, unhurried way does Face the Music: The flying booth of the original has now expanded its fleet to include another machine that looks like a sort of nifty little space egg; their guide, once played by the late George Carlin, has been faithfully replaced by his daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal). There are flash drives and SUVs, and more than one crucial plot point that relies entirely on the wisdom of Kid Cudi (as himself).

There are also a few thousand years of convenient history for returning screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon to mine as Billie and Thea spelunk through the past in their quest to build the ultimate supergroup and create the ultimate planet-unifying jam, and Bill and Ted mostly fly around confronting past and future versions of themselves.

It's maybe better to say less about the ersatz versions of figures like Mozart and Jesus and Jimi Hendrix that the movie inevitably trots out, except that they would undoubtedly get good work on a cruise ship, and focus instead on other cameos: Jillian Bell as a dumbfounded couples therapist, the great Holland Taylor as a testy but impeccably turbaned leader from the utopian future, Barry's Anthony Carrigan as a self-flagellating robot named Dennis.

Bill and Ted's infinitely patient wives, the imported Elizabethan princesses Joanna and Elizabeth (Jayma Mays and Erin Hayes), don't get to do much more than lovingly roll their eyes, though Death (William Sadler, reprising his Bogus Journey role) does find his time to shine, playing the Grim Reaper as a kind of neurotic outcast who wants nothing more than not to be picked last for kickball.

Director Dean Parisot (Red 2, Galaxy Quest) manages to more or less corral this clown car for the next 90 minutes, though even that runtime can feel like a stretch. Mostly, the joy comes from watching Reeves and Winter on screen, two holy fools just doing their best to bring light and love and non-heinous riffs — and remind the bleary-eyed citizens of 2020, perhaps, of a simpler, sweeter world gone by. B

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Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020 Movie)

Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return in 'Bill & Ted Face the Music,' a delightfully dumb tale of whoa.
type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
director
  • Dean Parisot

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