Bill & Ted Face the Music

It’s like this. You were always going to go and see Bill & Ted Face the Music because you loved the original Bill & Ted movies, because you’re a child of the 80s and because you’ll always have a soft spot for Keanu Reeves and because being excellent to each other never seemed like too much to ask.

You had to go today, though, because it looks like your county is heading into further restrictions, related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and movies are escapism, and it’s hard to escape when cinemas shut their doors. (An aside: the inevitable restrictions are weighing on your mind, and fraying your nerves a little, so a couple of hours in a large dark room, with a pumpkin spice latte and a large doughnut are more necessary than ever.)

You expected to enjoy the movie because going to the cinema is an event, the way it hasn’t been since you were a child, and because you are predisposed to enjoy anything that promises a little gentle nostalgia. You didn’t expect to have a mini-existential crisis, and you definitely didn’t expect that Bill & Ted Face the Music, a movie about a pair of ageing dads who never reached their potential, would make you cry a little (only a little, though; enough to pass off as allergies if anyone cared to look above your face mask, but not enough to flush out your contact lenses).

It’s up to Bill & Ted to save the world, and existence, and also their marriages to the medieval princesses (Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays), but we also see a charming series of family dynamics, between Bill & Ted and their daughters, between Rufus’ daughter Kelly (Kristen Staal) and her mother, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor), who is Olenna Tyrell in aesthetic – RIP Diana Rigg – and Queen Clarisse in mannerism, if Genovia was set in the future and murder by robot was a legitimate solution to problems in The Princess Diaries). (You take a moment to consider how much your friend would enjoy this movie, not least because of the existence of an insecure robot with a conscience and Kid Cudi’s impeccable grasp of theoretical physics).

It’s not just about Bill & Ted, though, as they bumble their way through a grim future; it’s about their daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and here’s the thing that’s grabbed you by the throat: it’s about how two young women save everything. They don’t make music but they love music, and that resonates. How often do young women have their hobbies and interests minimised and invalidated? How often are young women (women of any age) told that they’re not engaging in fandom the right way, whether it’s sports, or gaming, or music?

Not in this movie. In this movie, the love these two young women have for music shines through all of their scenes, and they don’t realise how important it is until the end and it’s so uplifting.

You’re sure that there are problematic elements to the first movies (Napoleon probably shouldn’t have been a whacky funny guy), but what really made your throat catch during this movie was how Thea and Billie (and this movie) acknowledge the origins of some of the best music in the world, and those origins are diverse: there is Jimi Hendrix in 1967, and Louis Armstrong in 1922. There is Mozart in the eighteenth century, having a musical duel with Hendrix, and there is Ling Lun, a flautist in Ancient China, and Grom, the world’s greatest drummer.

Knowing and loving Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey was pretty critical to loving this movie as much as you did but, then again, you’re always a soft touch when it comes to happy family dynamics, cooperation and kindness.

And honestly, what really got you in the end, was the far-fetched idea that the world has the capacity to join together to save itself.

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