Bill & Ted’s third instalment reminds us all to be excellent to each other in uncertain times

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By Jake Kuhn, Third Year, Film & Television

Often, I wake up in the middle of the night, sweating, having just dreamt that Hollywood have decided to make a sequel to Zoolander (2001). I grab my phone, un-plug it from its charging station and hurriedly type the key-words into Google.

After only twenty-three minutes of scrolling through Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Collider articles, I am thankful to see they’ve decided not to touch that property yet.

‘The world’s still pure,’ I think as I drift back into dreams where film characters who I’ve grown up watching appear frequently without the constraints of the horrible, yet inevitable, fate of being put back on the screen; studios desperately hoping that a recognisable IP will lead to a box-office smash – not caring about how many hearts they break along the way. See Dumb and Dumber Too (2014) or Work Hard, Die Hard (2016) for examples.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) | Courtesy of IMDb

It was one of those nights on which I discovered a third instalment of the Bill and Ted franchise had been green-lit. I was naively optimistic: it’s the same writers. It’s the same stars. It’s the same director of my favourite film, Red 2 (2013).

At the time, I didn’t even have an inkling of the state the world would be in during its release. Now I do, I can safely say that its simplistic morals are more welcome than I could have ever imagined. Be excellent to each other.

After two movies, you’d think we’d get the picture. However, as has become apparent this year, it seems we could all do with a quick refresher from Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter).

Thematically, this could be the first ever long-awaited sequel to feel prescient, or dare I say, necessary

Thematically, this could be the first ever long-awaited sequel to feel prescient, or dare I say, necessary – even if it is for its simplistic championing of kindness and the power of working together.

The film takes place 29 years after Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) and not much has changed for the titular characters, who are still desperately trying to come up with the song that will unite the world.

Within the first five minutes, they are whisked up in a time machine and told by Holland Taylor in an almost inoffensively generic sci-fi costume that they have seventy-seven minutes to come up with the song.

Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Daniel Dorr, Kid Cudi, Jeremiah Craft, Brigette Lundy-Paine, DazMann Still, and Patty Anne Miller in Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) | Courtesy of IMDb

Bill and Ted decide that their most viable route to achieving this goal will be to steal the song from themselves in the future.

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back on top form, giving genuinely touching performances. The ride is quick, with only a few elements that feel as though they were taken directly from the long-awaited sequel hand-book:

  1. Carbon copy kids of the original characters who can potentially reboot the franchise at a later date.
  2. Bad CGI
  3. Unnecessary opening voice-over explaining what’s going on so your kids can check out and look at TikTok whilst you relive your youth.

Despite these, the film’s distinguishing factor is that it was clearly made with love. Furthermore, if you love these characters back, you’ll likely have a fun time with the movie even if it isn’t as polished or imaginative as the original two films in the franchise.

It treats its characters with care and respect, placing it alongside sequels such as Toy Story 4 (2019) as opposed to Die H8rd (2014).

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter in Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) | Courtesy of IMDb

As a critic I always give any movie with a runtime of ninety minutes (or less) five stars. In that regard, it’s safe to say that Bill & Ted Face the Music is a five-star film. Now, I know you’re asking the obvious question or whether I would recommend this film. Well, are you the type of person who enjoys brown toast and reading Cahiers du Cinema on a Sunday morning? If yes, this isn’t for you. If no, relax and enjoy.

In an interview with the Big Picture Podcast, Alex Winter perfectly sums up the movie when talking about the writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson: ‘They’re good writers and didn’t want to re-hash themselves. But they went even further than they could have, or even needed to.’

Featured: IMDb


Will you be seeing Bill & Ted Face the Music in cinemas?

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