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"BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC"
(2020) (Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves) (PG)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Two middle-aged men once again use time travel while attempting to write a song that will not only save the world, but also all of reality.
PLOT:

Nearly twenty-five-years ago, Bill (ALEX WINTER) and Ted (KEANU REEVES) were two idiotic teenagers who ended up traveling through time to work on a history report and ended up tasked with writing a song that would unite and save the world. All of these years later, they're still trying, and their rock band, Wild Stallyns, has slowly disappeared into obscurity.

All of which -- plus the men's inability to separate themselves from each other in personal matters -- has put a strain on their marriages to Joanna (JAYMA MAYS) and Elizabeth (ERINN HAYES). But their teenage daughters, Thea (SAMARA WEAVING) and Billie (BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE), have clearly inherited their nerdy love for music.

All of them are thrown for a loop when the adult daughter, Kelly (KRISTEN SCHAAL), of their former time travel coordinator shows up and takes them to the year 2720 where they're informed by Kelly's mother that they only have until 7:17 p.m. back in their present to write the aforementioned song or else reality will cease to exist.

Realizing their long-standing failure to produce the song won't change in a matter of hours, the two head into the future to find their future selves and return with the successful song. At the same time, their daughters travel back in time to recruit a backup band composed of famous musicians to help with the matter.

With time running out and while having to contend with a robot, Dennis Caleb McCoy (ANTHONY CARRIGAN), who's been sent to kill them, along with yet another encounter with the Grim Reaper (WILLIAM SADLER), Bill and Ted race against time to get and perform the pivotal song before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Back when "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" came out in 1989, titular stars Alex Winter (Bill) and Keanu Reeves (Ted) were twenty-four and twenty-five-years old respectively. While older than their onscreen teenage counterparts, the actors nonetheless pulled off playing the roles believably enough in the goofy time travel comedy already slathered in copious amounts of suspension of disbelief.

They then reprised those roles two years later in the sequel "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," playing the same two idiotic teenagers who've been led to believe -- by the late, great George Carlin's character from the future -- that their "Wild Stallyns" rock band would create a song to save the world.

I was never a huge fan of either of the films and preferred the somewhat similar shenanigans of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in the "Wayne's World" flicks. Accordingly, I hadn't revisited the Bill & Ted offerings since first seeing them so long ago and any such "I wonder what they'd be doing now?" thoughts never crossed my mind.

That is, until it was announced that the actors would return to their roles -- now more than a quarter-century later -- in "Bill & Ted Face the Music." From a writing perspective, there are two ways returning screenwriters Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon could have approached the characters.

For one, Theodore and William could now be "normal" adults who long-ago abandoned their dimwitted, time-traveling rocker/surfer boy stereotypical personas but get called back into action -- and thus a return to their former ways, maybe meta style -- to save the day. Or they could have just continued on continuing on, still trying to write the world-saving ditty but having zero success and now getting one last renewed chance to be the heroes.

The scribes -- whose work has been brought to the screen by Dean Parisot (who's probably best known for helming "Galaxy Quest") -- chose the latter route. While diehard fans of the previous films might enjoy that decision, I found the plot direction and overall offering mediocre at its best moments and rather bland and uninspired the rest of the time.

Which is too bad because with time travel the sky -- um, clock and calendar, I guess -- is the limit in terms of creative options. Here, with a quick "whatever happened to" prologue we learn that the men's band is all but forgotten, resulting in couples therapy with their wives (Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes), although their teenage daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) have apparently inherited their uber-nerdy affection for music.

With a visit from the future by the daughter (Kristen Schaal) of their previous time-traveling contact (Carlin), the men learn that once again they're on the clock to write a song that will not only unite the world but more importantly also save reality. Whoa indeed.

So, realizing a quarter-century of failure likely won't be remedied in just a few hours, Bill & Ted decide to travel into the future to find their future selves and bring back the presumably already successful world-saving song. Despite all of the potential there, the results are sporadically amusing at best.

Their daughters decide to head the opposite direction to recruit a backup band and for a few moments -- featuring visits with some legendary musicians -- I thought the flick was going to find its creative footing and truly flourish (and possibly set-up a spin-off flick featuring the daughters in their own time-travel, let's put a band together movie).

Perhaps that will come to fruition, but even that story diversion runs out of gas the further they keep going back and then once things wrap back around to their dads and a visit to Hell and another goofy encounter with the Grim Reaper (William Sadler), all of the creativity and imagination has all but evaporated.

Again, fans of the first two films might enjoy another "bogus" and "excellent" time with the title characters. For me, it's simply not as creative, imaginative, funny, or entertaining as it could and should have been. "Bill & Ted Face the Music" rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed August 26, 2020 / Posted August 28, 2020


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