Warning: mild spoilers below...
It may not have seemed like the world needed another Bill & Ted movie, but turns out it did. Face the Music is a fun, funny and satisfying conclusion to what might be the most improbably great trilogy of all time. It is without a doubt the best trilogy Keanu Reeves has starred in.
Face the Music picks up 29 years from where Bogus Journey left off. Wyld Stallyns became famous but Bill & Ted never wrote the prophesized song that would unite the world; the band broke up but they're still trying to write that song, albeit now with theremins, steel drum, and throat singing. Apart from their wives (they married the princesses, now played by Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) and their daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving), nobody believes their time travel, save-the-world story. Just when they're about to give up, they are visited once again by a traveller from the future (Kristen Schaal, as the daughter of George Carlin's Rufus from the first two movies) and their new excellent adventures begins.
Credit to stars Reeves (Ted "Theodore" Logan) and Alex Winter (Bill S. Preston, Esq.) and trilogy screenwriters Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson for keeping the spirit and spark of first two film going for Face the Music -- namely Bill & Ted's friendship and sweet, if usually clueless, nature. That spirit extends to that story which, once again, doesn't really have a villian beyond a literal ticking clock. Director Dean Parisot, who made Galaxy Quest, keeps things moving (it's a brisk 91 minutes) and coherent even with a time travel plot that loops around itself more times that Back to the Future: Pt 2. Reeves and Winter are clearly having a blast revisiting these roles, and get to play five different versions of Bill and Ted at various points in time.
The film also does a great job of continuing the story, with lots of clever callbacks and returning characters, including Amy Stoch as Missy, who has been both Bill and Ted's stepmom and has now married again, and William Sadler as Death, who is still bitter about Wyld Stallyns' breakup. (As in Bogus Journey, he gets a lot of the best jokes.) Another welcome return is Hal Landon Jr. as Ted's ever-disappointed police captain father.
The smartest addition here are Bill and Ted's respective daughters, Wilhelmina (Lundy-Paine) and Theodora (Weaving), who bring much-needed youthful energy and are both terrific as secondary leads, tasked with their own excellent adventure that mirrors the first film. Also great is Anthony Carrigan, who you may know as Noho Hank in HBO's Barry, and here is unrecognizable under makeup but hilarious as...the best surprise in the film.
Face the Music is also true to its title, easily the most musically-minded of the three B&Ts, with "the song" being the film's plot-driving mcguffin. The series has always cast musicians -- including Jane Wiedlin, Clarence Clemons, Primus, and Faith No More's Jim Martin -- but this time Dave Grohl and Kid Cudi have substantial roles as themselves, with Kudi in particular being the only character who really seems to understand what's going on. (Arcade Fire's Win Butler also appears, in the smallest of cameos.) Wilhelmina & Theodora, meanwhile, are more music obsessed than their dads, and that comes in very handy.
The audience is likely to see the ending of the film coming way before Bill & Ted do (though that's par for the course for these sweet dim bulbs), but that's fine for this film that isn't afraid to be cheesy or silly or a little sappy. It's heart is in the right place, you want a happy ending even if the world-uniting song involves the millenial whoop. "Excellent" might be overstating things just a hair, but Bill & Ted Face the Music could have easily been bogus, but really is a most triumphant time. Cue guitar solo.
You can rent Bill & Ted Face the Music from the streaming service of your choice, and it may also be playing at a theater near you (if a theater near you is open during these pandemic times).
The Bill & Ted: Face the Music soundtrack features Mastodon, Lamb of God, FIDLAR, Cold War Kids, Big Black Delta, and more, and tech-metallers Animals As Leaders and jazz great Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah play on one of the Wyld Stallyns songs.