Film review: Bill and Ted Face The Music (PG)

Bill and Ted Face The Music

Bill and Ted Face The Music - Credit: Archant

Reality is collapsing and civilisation is ending, yet somehow Bill and Ted’s world still seems more benign than ours in a reboot that is charming but uninventive

Bill and Ted Face The Music

Bill and Ted Face The Music - Credit: Archant

Getting the band back together is always a risky proposition.

The reunion tour can on occasion see a talent reignite, give a second wind to performers who maybe didn’t quite exhaust their talent first time around. (Suede have recorded some fine albums after taking a little break from each other.)

More often though it’s just a sad money grab or a nostalgic night out that is harmless fun for both audience and performers.

Three decades on, the return of the time-travelling metalhead Californian teenagers, lands somewhere in the middle: it’s fun but nothing we couldn’t have lived without.

Returning to something after almost three decades is a tricky proposition but it’s helped here by the original films, Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey not being exercises in hilarity.

They made you smile, imbued happiness but no guts were busted through excessive laughter. Put bluntly, they weren’t that great so their creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon would have to go some to trash Bill and Ted’s legacy.

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The only major obstacle they face is that the original film established the pair’s destiny was to write the ultimate song that would unite humanity and create a future utopian civilisation. With the characters now middle-aged, the creators have to come up with a solution.

For Face The Music we drop in on them as ex-rock stars with failing marriages and two daughters. Freakishly, Bill and Ted are the only parents in history to produce teenagers who try to be just like their fathers: Thea (Weaving) and Billie (Lundy-Paine) slavishly copy their daddies’ speech patterns and taste in music.

This new instalment is another time travel adventure with the daughters going back in time to gather historical figures to play in the band (a rerun of the plot of the first film) and their fathers heading off to the future to meet their future selves. In the first film, I was struck that a lot of the time travel innovations would later be nabbed by Steven Moffat for his reboot of Doctor Who.

This time I think Matheson and Solomon nick some back.

(I like a nice time travel story myself as do the Brothers Warners because, after Tenet, this is their second film in a month with characters travelling back and forth in time. What bugs me though is that in both these narratives the climax is a race against the clock to find a solution to save all humanity.

Once you’ve started dabbling in temporal paradoxes it’s a monumental cop-out to then impose an immutable countdown on the action, as improbable and unrealistic as a 9.00 p.m. curfew on a death metal festival.)

You’re always stuck in the middle with Bill and Ted. They are never inventive or funny enough to wow an audience, but it would be hard not to be a little charmed by them. Their way with language still tickles me, “Ted, you have had many counter-intuitive ideas over the years, but this is, by far, the counterintuitivist of them all.”

The issue here is that the music is not faced. The film doesn’t come up with any point for them returning, nor address how Bill and Ted might be relevant in 2020.

It parks them in a parallel world not so different from the one we found them in back in the 80s.

Reality is collapsing and civilisation is ending, yet somehow Bill and Ted’s world still seems more benign than ours.

3/5 stars

Directed by Dean Parisot. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Kristen Schaal and William Sadler. In cinemas. Running time: 92 mins.

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