Bill & Ted Face The Music is the movie all of us unquestionably need in 2020. With this film, the story that began decades ago about two friends who are tasked with writing the song that “will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony” while ultimately uniting humanity in peace, has now become a tale of even more dire consequence – Bill & Ted are now to save reality as they know it.
But Face The Music is also so much more than that: it is a film alive with important, intimate, and personal themes: true, everlasting friendship, even in the face of failure, with the unwavering celebration and unconditional support of your children, all alongside the unexplainable power of music to unite us all.
2020 has assuredly been a year of fear and uncertainty across the entire globe, intensified by the continually growing racial divide across our own country in the United States. COVID-19 has changed the world as we knew it to be, bringing the normal outlets of socialization to a screeching halt, forever changing how we will live our lives in the foreseeable future. With no vaccine currently slated for release, we continue to live in fearful and uncertain times, as the infection rates continue to rise in most parts of the world, particularly here in our homeland – our case counts grow with each passing day, with our worry compounded by what feels like a renewed, continual, almost daily, struggle for racial equality for minority America.
But during what we could almost certainly label currently as the darkest of times, filmmakers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson bring us all film that delivers a renewed sense of hope and optimism, taking us along for the final journey of Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan. From a script that was nearly a decade in the making, they all 4 remind us that even in our most desperate hours, all we need is faith in each other and in those around us in order to survive, no matter how the odds are stacked against us.
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves return to the roles that put them on the Hollywood map way back in 1989. And after nearly 30 years since the last time they played these lovable, now iconic, characters, their return to these roles is magical, and they embody Bill & Ted as though they haven’t missed a beat. On-screen the chemistry between Reeves and Winter is infectious, as it always was in both of the earlier Bill & Ted films, and this is due in large part to their continued and growing friendship over the decades since they made Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey. We should all consider ourselves fortunate that they would even consider returning to these roles after decades of successes in Hollywood: Winter with his celebrated film writing and documentary/investigative filmmaking, and Reeves with his various, and many now iconic, roles, including Neo and John Wick.
The immediate supporting cast of the film is also absolutely stellar. Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine are so on-point as the daughters of Bill and Ted that by the end of Face The Music you are ready for them to have their own film – their most excellent performances cannot be overstated. And while the relationship they share with their fathers is hardly mentioned in the film, with Solomon and Matheson’s writing you can tell there is a vast history between the four of them. Both Thea and Billie are obsessed with music and are certifiable music history experts, no doubt thanks in large part to their most excellent upbringing alongside the two men who lived their lives believing they would one day unite the world in song. William Sadler also most triumphantly returns as Death, and while it feels as though we deserved a little more time with him this go-around, the time he does spend with Bill & Ted is both hilarious and heartwarming; it is a true joy to see the three of them all together again.
The MVP of the ancillary cast goes to Anthony Carrigan as a killer robot from the future. His role serves as this film’s “Death” role, with Carrigan stealing every scene he is in as he navigates life chasing after, and then ultimately joining, our heroes on their final trip through time.
Face The Music may also be the best of the three Bill & Ted films – it is not only a hybrid of the two films that came before it, but it is also an experience that stands on its own as something new, fresh, and bold. It is a film of numerous adventures and multiple themes – from following the Great Ones’ daughters on their own journey, to witnessing Bill & Ted struggle with doubting themselves, having arrived at middle-aged adulthood without still having achieved what they were destined to do. But the final act of the film is where we finally witness the true power of friendship, trusting in others AND also in music to unite friends, family, and strangers across space and time; it is a film full of optimism, fun, and it stands as a reminder that things don’t always end the way you expect them to.
But the true, grounding and relatable aspect of Bill & Ted is the growing journey of their lifelong and unwavering friendship. And this is why Face The Music holds such a special place in my heart because for me it’s far more than just another silly trip with Preston and Logan.
All of us can relate to that one friend or friends that we have known and who have been a part of our lives since we were children, and I am no exception. My parents were best friends with another family, their son a bit older than me by about a year or so. Our dads played in a band together, and we were all together nearly every weekend for years on end it seemed. And so I discovered Excellent Adventure when their son/my best childhood friend, with whom I also shared a love of 80’s pro wrestling, Star Wars, and MTV vixen video stars, rented the film on VHS and insisted we watch it one evening. Since that night in 1989, we have both been ridiculous, absurd fanboys of the Bill & Ted characters over the years.
But as life often allows for, he and I grew older, our different paths separating us over time. We lost touch, both of us growing up and starting adult lives of our own. But in recent years we made multiple attempts to reconnect and rekindle our friendship, but to be honest, I was not as good a friend as I should have been – I was too busy with my own life to truly commit to picking up where we left off all those years ago. I just didn’t make the time as often as I could have, and that was on me. Eventually, and understandably, my friend gave up on me, and on our friendship.
As a result, we didn’t speak for several years.
Then one day, with no warning, official word arrived in the form of a video announcement from Winter and Reeves that they would be returning to the roles of Bill & Ted, reuniting to make a 3rd and final film. It was that day that I finally put my ego aside…because I couldn’t imagine experiencing a new Bill & Ted film without what was essentially my brother.
Last week, we got back together for the first significant amount of time in years, and we watched Face The Music in a theater, together with other fans, but also with no wives, no children, and absolutely no worries. We laughed out loud, we even cried a bit, but ultimately we reconnected as a family.
This film reunited us and repaired a decades long friendship that had been broken years ago.
And so is the legacy of Bill & Ted – always believing in the power of music to bring everyone together, while ultimately trusting in one another and celebrating true friendship no matter the odds.
Be Excellent To Each Other, and Party On.