Let it first be known that Keanu Reeves—celebrated nice guy, not very good actor and gigantic movie star—certainly didn't have to make a movie like Bill & Ted Face the Music, but he should be commended for doing so out of, I can only assume, love for his co-star Alex Winter. And maybe the desire to have some fun.
Either way, it's been more than 30 years since the duo originally traveled through time to complete a history report—thereby solidifying a most excellent future for all humankind—and nearly 30 since they journeyed most bogusly through heaven and hell to defeat the nefarious gym teacher Chuck De Nomolos in the sequel.
It was triumphant, but conditions have deteriorated by the time we catch up with B&T in 2020. Sure, the eponymous duo sired a couple kids with their medieval-era princess brides and put out a string of records meant to unite the globe, but they've still not managed to write that one all-important song predicted by the since-dead time traveling Rufus (RIP George Carlin), and this can only spell trouble. Looks like it's back in the phone booth in search of an era during which the future versions of themselves have written the song, or time and space will cease to exist.
While there's certainly a wonderful nostalgia pang seeing Winter and Reeves reunite alongside original Bill & Ted creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, Face the Music falls victim to a strange combo of overextended expectations, unfortunate additions and a confusing lack of spark. Tossing in Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as Zoomer carbon copies of the heroes feels like an out-of-touch stab at harnessing the youth market, and William Sadler's return as the literal Grim Reaper feels all too short. The same goes for appearances from newer stars like Jillian Bell, Kristen Schall and Barry's Anthony Carrigan—and there's one cameo that could have been glorious but falls so flat it almost hurts. SNL's Beck Bennett should have been in it less, and recasting the princesses with younger actresses Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes just plain sucks.
It all leads to an ending that feels telegraphed from the early moments and a song that is NOT EVEN CLOSE TO AS GOOD as the KISS cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You" from Bogus Journey. In other words, we lose the thread of nostalgia to a meandering plot full of shoehorned characters that have little to do when we could have focused on Bill and Ted and had a more excellent time.
-You pretty much MUST be a fan already; too short
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Directed by Dean Parisot
With Reeves and Winter
VoD, PG-13, 91 min.