The third installment of the Bill & Ted series has been a long time coming – approximately 29 years. Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, who together wrote the first two Bill & Ted films, devised the latest story which would pick up in present-day San Dimas, when Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are middle-aged men. Bill and Ted haven’t fulfilled their destiny as the “Two Great Ones” – they have yet to create the one song that would unite the world. With their lives on the rocks – Wyld Stallyns has broken up and the princesses, Joanna Preston (Jayma Mayes) and Elizabeth Logan (Erinn Hayes), ready to break up (couples therapy is on tap, which produces humorous results).

One day, Kelly (Kristen Schaal), a messenger from the future, and the Great Leader (Holland Taylor) visit and inform Bill and Ted they have 77 minutes and 25 seconds to provide the song, or all of reality as they know it will cease. Having no clue how they made (or will make) the song, Bill and Ted decide to travel through time and steal the song from their future selves. They encounter some roadblocks since the many iterations of the “usses” are upset with present-Bill and Ted and thus aren’t forthcoming in providing help.

Directed by Dean Parisot, Face the Music, like its predecessors, is a silly comedy which fits right in with the series’ spirit and tone. Despite the 29-year layoff, Winter and Reeves reprise their respective roles with little trouble (I’m not sure of Reeves’ voice – he seems to be stuck on the John Wick setting) and their chemistry is still fantastic. A major reason the first two films charmed audiences years ago is because Winter and Reeves work so well together. It’s great to see time and distance haven’t changed that. Face the Music is the latest to benefit from it.

While Bill and Ted visit at least four different future-usses (it’s something out of The Nutty Professor films), their daughters, Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) and Billie Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine), decide to help their dads when Kelly informs them of their fathers' plight. Thea and Billie travel to the past, all set to recruit some of history’s greatest musicians for a band that’ll help Bill and Ted with the song. Their wish list is impressive – they target the likes of Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still), Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Daniel Dorr).

Weaving and Lundy-Paine are serviceable, yet endearing, as music geeks Thea and Billie. Although not as charming as Winter and Reeves, they share a solid chemistry and reproduce their movie dads’ mannerisms convincingly. It’s evident they studied the first two Bill & Ted films to accomplish that. Their takes as our heroes’ daughters are fitting and necessary tributes - they contribute to Face the Music’s humor and main story.

In all honesty, Face the Music isn’t that funny. Its humor is sophomoric (but not filthy) - the funniest scenes reference the prequels (which means this threequel is for older Bill & Ted fans). For example, the gag involving Missy, who was at separate times stepmother to both Bill and Ted, is alive and (somewhat) well. In keeping with continuity, Amy Stoch returns as Missy (present-Missy likely is an in-joke in itself), making her one of just four actors to appear in all three films (Winter, Reeves and Hal Landon Jr., reprising his role as Ted’s dad Captain Logan, fill out the list).

Besides winning turns from Winter and Reeves, Face the Music scores big, thanks to its positive and inspirational message. Championing unity and inclusion is the perfect counterbalance to the hostility and hate plaguing real life. Plus, if the notion of providing unity through music isn’t a ringing endorsement to support the arts, I don’t know what is.

And in case Face the Music wasn't playful enough, William Sadler returns as Death (“You have sunk my battleship!”), while Anthony Carrigan (a hilarious scene stealer on HBO’s Barry) joins the cast as Dennis Caleb McCoy, a time-traveling robot assassin with confidence issues.

The only person missing from Face the Music is George Carlin, who passed away in 2008. As consolation, Rufus briefly appears using unused footage - proof the cast and crew have kept him in their hearts all this time.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is an inspirationl, lighthearted nostalgia trip that timehops with reckless abandon. With respect to the time-travel, it fits right in with the series’ aesthetic, but things get a little confusing. That doesn’t matter – Matheson and Solomon don’t linger on the science of it all. They want Bill and Ted to have fun, even during adversity. That’s what makes the co-founders and co-lead guitarists of Wyld Stallyns great - Bill and Ted always take it easy and constantly remain positive. Just look, they’re excellent to each other and everyone, even Death and Napoleon.

Bill and Ted really are the saviors of which Rufus foretold, a crazy but reasonable thought. They are not just heroes within their film universe, but within ours, too. That is most triumphant… dude.

3.5 stars out of 5


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