[Nightmarish Detour] BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC brings our favorite would-be rockers together for a nostalgia-driven, feel-good comedy that will appeal to both hard-core fans of the franchise as well as newcomers. Directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) and co-written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, writers of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), the film reunites Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter along with a star-studded cast featuring Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Kristen Schaal, Holland Taylor, Jillian Bell, Hal Landon Jr., Anthony Carrigan, and William Sadler.

To best describe the film, I’ll turn to the official synopsis: “The stakes are higher than ever for the time-traveling exploits of William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and Theodore “Ted” Logan (Keanu Reeves). The now middle aged best friends set out on a new adventure to seek the song that will set their world right and bring harmony in the universe with the help of their daughters (played by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine), a new bath of historical figures and a few music legends.”

It’s been almost three decades since we last saw Bill & Ted and, unfortunately, things haven’t gone so well for the Wyld Stallyns. Instead of performing sold-out concerts, they are now performing at wedding venues, and their goal of creating a song to bring all of humanity together has not come to fruition. At the cusp of giving up, they are visited by Rufus’ daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) who informs them that they have exactly 88 min (the runtime of the film) to perform the song that brings the universe together so as to stop time and space from folding in on itself. As Bill & Ted go on a time-traveling quest to find the answers they seek and the song that’s needed, their daughters step in for their own time-traveling adventures in order to help their dads. However, Kelly’s mom, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) has little faith in Bill & Ted and devices her own plan to have a robot sent out to annihilate the duo and to find the song that will unite them all.

Just as in the previous films, there is so much to love about BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC. Both Keanu & Alex effortlessly revert back to their endearing characters. I enjoyed seeing how the last three decades have impacted Bill and Ted, both in terms of their relationships with their royal wives (played by Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) but also with their daughters. Furthermore, on their quest to find the song, we get to see present Bill and Ted interacting future versions of Bill and Ted which results in some hilarious situations as well as some questionable clothing choices.

As for Bill and Ted’s daughters, Thea and Billie, both Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine did a fantastic job of mimicking the behaviors of their dads, resulting in a believable and heartfelt performance. I’ve been a fan of Weaving since her role in Ash vs. Evil Dead and I’m convinced she is a chameleon that can change into any role she is given. I wasn’t overly familiar with Lundy-Paine prior to this film but I will say, they were one of my favorite parts about the movie. Their character was filled with so much energy that it was hard not to be captivated by their performance. One of the things that I really appreciated about this film was how it was framed to pass the torch to Thea and Billie. I’m not sure if this will kick off a new franchise with the daughters but if so, I’m all in.

As for the other characters, the film makes sure to tug on that nostalgia chord by not only having past characters return, such as Death (William Sadler) and Ted’s father Captain Logan (Hal Landon Jr.) but by also paying homage to the late George Carlin in a scene featuring him as a Rufus holograph. However, my new favorite character is by far the anxiety-ridden, murderous robot named Dennis Caleb McCoy, played brilliantly by Barry‘s Anthony Carrigan. The film features many funny moments but none so much as when Dennis gets going. Additionally, being able to revisit with Death was such a wonderful experience and one I think horror fans will enjoy – cause who doesn’t love a trip to Hell?

Overall, the film has a fun, playful, heartfelt tone to it which is something that is much needed during these times of unrest. I wish that the film made the stakes seem more believable because never was there a moment in which I thought Bill or Ted was truly in danger. Additionally, I felt as though some of the jokes fell flat and pandered more towards an adolescent vibe instead of one that fits with the times. All that being said, I think the film had a remarkable message about family, love, and friendship, that’ll make even the most cynical of people leave with a smile on their face. It may not have hit its full potential, but regardless, it was a most excellent journey to go on with these bodacious dudes.

BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC will be released on demand and in theaters nationwide on August 28, 2020. **Disclaimer/Editor’s Note: Nightmarish Conjurings doesn’t condone seeing movies in theatres during the pandemic. 

Shannon McGrew
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