RELEASED: August 28th 2020 / September 16th 2020
DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros. Pictures
DIRECTED BY: Dean Parisot
WRITTEN BY: Chris Matheson & Ed Solomon
PRODUCED BY: Scott Kroopf, Alex Lebovici, David Haring, Steve Ponce, Ed Solomon & Alex Winter
MUSIC BY: Mark Isham
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, Erinn Hayes, Jayma Mays, Holland Taylor, Kid Cudi, William Sadler & Jillian Bell
REVIEW: Full disclosure, this is the first Bill & Ted film I’ve ever watched, so my point-of-view may be a little skewed compared to long-time fans.
However, in spite of that, I thought this film wasn’t bad. Enjoyable. I’m hesitant to say ‘good’, but it was goofy in the way I assume they intended.
Bill and Ted Face the Music finds the titular duo twenty-five years after they failed to unite the world through their music. Now, with their marriages on the rocks, the pair are questioning putting an end to their crusade. But before they can, they are once more called upon by beings from the future to not only unite the world but save reality as they know it. With time running out, the ‘Wyld Stallyns’ take a voyage through time to find out how to save the day, while their daughters ‘little Bill’ and ‘little Ted’ go on their own trip to assemble the world’s greatest band.
As I said, this isn’t necessarily a good film – to give some context, I saw it along with four of my co-workers – two in their twenties, two in their forties. My elder coworkers didn’t particularly enjoy the film or even find it funny, while the younger two liked it a fair bit.
I think there are a few reasons for this. The story is simple and fairly predictable; there’s not a lot of depth to be found here.
The comedic beats also waver in quality. While I wouldn’t say the film is a barrel of laughs (the key criticism of my older co-workers: one claimed not to have laughed at all), the film does have a playful humour that will appeal to some. I personally found Anthony Carrigan’s character Dennis, and his recurring joke to be quite amusing.
Instead, it’s more of a goofy bit of fun that doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest. It’s mostly just Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter messing around, doing a Bill & Ted greatest hits of sorts, while Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine put their own unique spin on female variants of the classic characters. The performances of the core cast are pretty good, and the fun the whole group seem to be having is pretty palpable. I would say that Weaving and Lundy-Paine are the standouts.
Not all the performances are as strong, but on the whole, the majority of the cast seems to be trying to get that Bill & Ted vibe, as opposed to giving it their best, and for a film such as this, I think that’s okay.
One thing that did stand out to me was the design. While the special effects are sometimes such that you can clearly see Reeves and Winters are just standing in front of a green screen, considering the film’s moderate budget (by movie-making standards, anyway), I thought a lot of it looked quite good. It gave interesting renditions of the future and hell, and while they may have been taken from prior movies, I imagine they look a good deal better here. It really brought the idea of this sci-fi/fantasy hybrid world to life.
Similarly, the different iterations of Bill and Ted throughout time make for some enjoyable encounters and provide some subtle but effective character development.
Whether this will all be accepted by general audiences is hard to say. Upon leaving the film, my boss jokingly questioned if this film was destined ‘to be the saviour of cinema?’, and if that is supposed to be the case (it’s not, of course – that was clearly Tenet‘s mandate), then it probably (also) won’t work. At the moment, most people tend to be coming in dribs and drabs to see Tenet, interspersed with the occasional horde of teenage girls attending After We Collided. This is all anecdotal, of course, but I imagine other cinemas may be having similar sorts of turnouts.
Bill and Ted, I imagine, will probably fall somewhere in the middle of those two, with it’s greatest strength perhaps being its PG-Rating. Unlike the 12A rated Tenet, Bill and Ted is a movie that I think all ages have the capacity to enjoy if they’re into that sort of thing. There’s no real violence, no swearing, nothing provocative. Just simple, family-friendly goofiness, with a heartwarming message and a charming nature.
The ending is a bit messy, but the journey to get there is fun enough, and even if you don’t end up liking it, the film itself (not including ads and credits) is only about 80 minutes long, meaning you’ve not really lost much of your day.
All-in-all, I give Bill & Ted Face the Music:
I’ll just finish by saying despite my middling rating, I enjoyed it enough that it made me want to check out the prior two. So there’s that.
Anyway, thanks for reading! What did you think of Face the Music, excellent or bogus? Let me know in the comments below!
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