What Went Wrong With… Bill & Ted Face The Music?

Caricatures of Bill and Ted in Face The Music

With the release date of Bill & Ted Face The Music, the third installment in the franchise, continually getting pushed back thanks to Covid-19, I’ve been waking up in a cold sweat for the past few months, not because of the Coronavirus but from premonitions of a disappointing sequel. I’ve been living with visions of how many different ways the filmmakers could fuck-up this movie, with nightmarish scenarios of Jay & Silent Bob Reboot plaguing my mind. When I finally saw the teaser trailer and then the final trailer, some of this dread seemed to be warranted. Very much like Jay’s illegitimate child Milly, Bill & Ted 3 is no longer about the characters we loved, it’s now about passing the torch to their miserable family, namely their children Theodora and Wilhelmina, like the most dismal relay race of all time.

I don’t know why I expected more from this sequel. I’ve lost count of the franchises that have been ruined by cash-grab, sham-nostalgia follow-ups. With Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter appearing in various interviews telling fans that Bill & Ted Face The Music isn’t one of those typically contrived sequels that retread over old narratives, I was hoping this film would finally buck the trend. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Face The Music is a joyless, almost soul-destroying threequel that shits all over the original characters (Terminator… ahem… Dark Fate). Right from the get-go we have some nobodies narrating (mini-Bill and mini-Ted) and what follows is a sad-dad in a minivan-style script where anything cool about the franchise is obliterated… look at our cute kids, we’re so proud of them… piss off. With the narrator/s telling the audience that everything at the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey didn’t happen (how convenient) followed by the band breaking up and couples therapy with the Princesses, the whole premise is middle-aged and mundane. Imagine Midnight Run 2 beginning with a failed coffee shop. Way to shit on the original.

Sequels that leave a massive gap between the original are always disappointing, and almost every single one includes unnecessary elements such as marriages, divorces, and their pissy progeny. Films such as Terminator, Die Hard, and Bad Boys have all included unwanted plots about grown-up kids and the central characters getting old, and even though ageing is an unavoidable part of living, in a fantasy world, why do we have to get bogged-down by real-life woes? This is cinema, where we go to escape the mundanities of life. What’s the point in going to the multiplex to watch Bill S. Preston and Ted “Theodore” Logan’s ultra-depressing, old-man life, not to mention the destruction of my youth?

The late ’80s and early ’90s was a distinct time populated with distinctive personalities but no matter how much I wanted that period to go on, it firmly ended in the mid ’90s, and the ’10s have well and truly evolved beyond these Gen X stoner-slash-skaters. Trying to tell us a story about this generation’s middle-aged, middle-of-the-road life is so unwelcome, especially when the writers try to shift focus to their offspring. With this dispiriting sequel, everything that was good about the original has been trampled over; Bill and Ted aren’t musical saviours, their sprogs are. This is John Connor all over again! I’d also like to point out that we’ve got Coming To America and Twins sequels to look forward to… not. Miserable sequels (especially those with the “next generation”) aren’t going away any time soon.

Back to Face The Music, this film features a pointless, nonsensical plot. Time is apparently “folding in on itself” because, err… it’s a sequel and we need some kind of peril. “Preston and Logan” haven’t yet written the song that saves the world, but as soon as Bill and Ted are handed Rufus’ gold watch with the inscription “Sometimes things don’t make sense until the end of the story” the entire plot becomes predictable. “Bill and Ted” have two hours to write a song, otherwise at 7:17pm the world, the universe, or reality will end. But as the main duo proceed to travel into the future from a point in time where the end is nigh, how can a future even exist? None of this matters of course, since the film is so lacking in atmosphere, resembling an elongated Funny Or Die sketch, that you couldn’t care less about the storyline.

I’ve watched a couple of interviews with Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves where they’ve stated that they (along with writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson) didn’t want the third movie to simply recreate the first two. In the same way the second Bill & Ted film wasn’t about time-travel, the third therefore, should have been about something altogether different, but no. What we have is Theodora and Wilhelmina travelling through time and to hell, recruiting historical figures (musicians) from the past in order to write a future-saving song… how is this not a regurgitation of Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey? When Walmart creates a better advert for the Super Bowl than the actual sequel, you know things have gone awry. Us fans wanted to revisit the past, metaphorically and narratively, but what we instead have is a remake with two, younger actors, attempting to do impersonations of Bill and Ted (badly, I might add).

The plot also rips-off Tenacious D And The Pick Of Destiny since writing a classic song is the central premise here. Similar to Tenacious, Face The Music also falls short of offering its audience a memorable song which feels like a let-down. According to little Bill and little Ted’s narration, it’s not the song that matters, it’s how the population comes together! Sure, or it’s indicative of unimaginative song writing (and judging by Wyld Stallyns’ “Those Who Rock” it’s probably best the writers don’t attempt another so-called classic “number one” ditty). And while I’m at it, Weezer’s mediocre track (“Beginning Of The End”) is not in the same league as Kiss’ rendition of “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You”.

One of the worst aspects of the movie is Ted, or more accurately Keanu Reeves; he has what I can only describe as “dead eyes”, his inner-being or soul has seen and experienced too much to believably play an air-head. Ted’s voice and mannerisms now sound and look like a poor imitation, like John Wick is disguised as a has-been rocker hiding-out in San Dimas. When he utters the line “how’s it goin’ dude?” it comes across as false. Thank heavens for Alex Winter and William Sadler who seem to fit into their proverbial wardrobe like no time has passed. It’s a sad situation because Reeves managed to act like a subtly evil version of Ted in Bogus Journey but now he’s unable to step back into a character he successfully brought to life, twice. Any of the alternate Teds are preferable to the actual Ted we’re faced with; “Open Mic” Ted and “Prison” Ted are better than the clean-shaven, black hair-dyed, non-dude in a George from Asda shirt. Sadly, this Ted is long gone…

I didn’t laugh once throughout the entire film which shows how far this franchise has fallen. The fact that director Dead Parisot couldn’t coax a comedic performance out of anyone (especially Keanu) means his other classic comedy Galaxy Quest was a fluke. The other issue is Kid Cudi (playing himself) and the Dave Grohl cameo; they feel like afterthoughts or second choices. Was Eddie Van Halen or Bruce Dickinson unavailable or did they say “no” when asked? Bill and Ted were “heavy metal” after all, so what does Hip-Pop and Dad-Grunge have to do with the franchise? It just doesn’t feel right. And if you’re gonna pick a “rapper” for the sole purpose to make a joke about their unexpected intelligence, then why not choose someone who the public assumes is a bit daft? 6ix9ine would have been much better, or any mumble rapper from Lil Yachty to Lil Pump; seeing them speak about quantum physics would have been hilarious. On the topic of rappers, the amount of times Trigger Tha Gambler mentioned “Bill & Ted” in his tracks (at least twice), I’d have expected him to at least get a cameo like Ghostface Killah did in Iron Man‘s deleted scene. But I suppose two old white blokes are never going to know about credible music, hence all the mainstream Rock references in Excellent Adventure. The end result of being more “Pop” than “Rock” has directly led to the casting of Kid Cudi, whose music is as garbage as this finished movie.

The problems don’t end there. There’s also some dire CGI, leaving 95% of Face The Music looking like a TV movie (San Dimas 2720 A.D. now looks like a very amateur reconstruction of Tomorrowland: A World Beyond). Thanks to the pandemic, this flick went straight-to-streaming in the US which may be part of the reason why so many people enjoyed it. When watching this film on the big screen here in the UK, everything bad about it was amplified (and there’s lots). There was potentially a funny moment amongst all the aforementioned crap. A robot called “Dennis Caleb McCoy” was a surreal moment, that was until we’re told he’s named after a character’s ex-boyfriend… boo!

When mentioning all the issues of this film, I can foresee a trap; similar to the Black Christmas remake and Terminator: Dark Fate, any criticiser can be labelled “misogynist”… how dare you say anything against Theodora and Wilhelmina! I personally have no problem with the gender of Bill and Ted’s children. “Little Bill & Little Ted” could have conceivably been any sex, and since the babies were played by females in Bogus Journey (by actors Candace and Lauren Mead) it’s pointless to even bring this up. The problem therefore isn’t gender, it’s the fact that characters who were mere footnotes are now the focus. If a Wayne’s World sequel gets made where the two lead characters have sons and they’re the main protagonists, I’d have the same reaction.

Every time a minority (in this case female) is cast in a film, it seems that Hollywood neglects all others. I recall a black teacher, a black gatekeeper, and a black leader of the future in Bill & Ted 1 and 2 but now, almost three decades later, everyone important is female but white! Being fakely woke is such an obvious trait of Hollywood. God forbid characters be black and female. And what about the Princessess? Okay, they’ve been played by different actors in the past, but Joanna and Elizabeth aren’t allowed to age as much as Bill and Ted… sexist much? According to Hollywood, Ed Solomon, Chris Matheson, and whichever twat cast this shite, only “young” women are beautiful but men can get as wrinkly and as bow-legged as humanly possible and they’ll still retain their handsome, watchable, and profitable status. In the spirit of the original movies, I don’t see why all four actors who played the Princesses couldn’t have been in this movie: the Excellent Adventure Princesses as the older, future versions and the Bogus Journey Princessess as their present-day counterparts.

Almost everything about this movie is disheartening. The cast are old, the plot is old, that period of time is well and truly over. Plus Rufus is dead, and “Kelly” (played by Kristen Schaal) is a piss-poor replacement (although Russell Brand, who at one point was being touted as an alternate actor to George Carlin, would have made this movie a damn sight worse). It doesn’t matter that Schaal’s character’s name is the same as Carlin’s real-life daughter, what matters is the personality and feeling that surrounds her, which unfortunately is late-millennial annoyance. Kristen Schaal, Jillian Bell and Kid Cudi is like seeing Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Kanye West in a Back To The Future sequel… painful to watch.

Whilst on the subject of Rufus; George Carlin, a political stand-up whose post-mortem celebrity status consists solely of his best sound-bites, quotes, and memes (usually out of context), he now seems like a man who was unafraid to air unorthodox opinions. For people who were actually present to witness his career decline, we recall his wussy post-9/11 stand-up routine which failed to criticise anyone or anything. In a similar fashion, the filmmakers famously opted to use “wounded warriors” as extras in this film. Anything to keep the old war machine chugging. Didn’t we all want to avoid Oates Military Academy?

There’s nothing “Rock” about passively supporting militarism, not to mention incorporating a white Jesus into this film, which goes hand-in-hand with supporting American troops since deifying someone from the Arab world would be the complete opposite of post-9/11 Islamophobia. I guess Ed Solomon was always a fake-liberal, but back in the ’80s and ’90s without social media, we didn’t know his vanilla opinions and his sucker-arse world-view. Bottom line: an old white man, and another old white man, writing out a couple of old white men in favour of two young white women is not progress, and it most certainly isn’t entertainment. ’80s Bill and ’80s Ted would have slit their wrists with sharpened guitar picks if Rufus showed them this future or indeed this third movie. Bill & Ted Face The Music is so fucking heinous that I’ll have to console myself with repeat viewings of my Excellent Adventure blu-ray to get this uber-pish out of my mind. I have no idea how this overrated shit-fest has 82% on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas a classic like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure has 81% (and Bogus Journey only has 57%). Mainstream critics, like the writer, director, and actors of this film are non, non, non excellent or most, most, most bogus. We’re all fully aware that people get old but we don’t want to pay money to watch ageing misery based on the recommendation of the out-of-touch, dick-licking press.

Face It.

Writing: 1/10

Directing: 1/10

Acting: 2/10

Overall: 2/10



Read the related article - What Went Right With... Bill & ted's Excellent Adventure?

What Went Right With… Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?


4 replies »

  1. I think the main problem with the movie was that the setup wasn’t funny. The ‘Fish Out of Water’ scenario didn’t play out. In B&T 1&2 the two leads were a fish out of water. In #3 they just seem depressed and disappointed with themselves. The resolution of the movie doesn’t even solve this. They ultimately failed and didn’t really have the magic inside them to succeed. (They were bailed out by others). This would be like making another Austin Powers movie where Austin spends the bulk of the movie coming to grips with how he’s not really that good at being a spy and someone else ultimately saves the day for him. It’s pretty weak content for comedy. It’s far funnier watching goofballs/oddballs succeeding despite the odds. I would have preferred that the time travel of the first movie had remained in all the sequels. That genre was rich for mining comedy. The first B&T is a cult classic and the two cartoon series are pretty good as well. The live action TV series and the two movie sequels are all a grade below, and the third one isn’t even worth watching.

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