Any pandemic, in any historical period, would benefit from a Bill & Tedmovie. “Bill & Ted Face the Music” makes that clear enough. It opens in theaters and online this weekend. While it’s adequate at best in its screen comedy technique, its heart is supremely generous. And its unfashionably persistent belief in the value of “being excellent to each other” goes down especially well in 2020, when so many have forgotten that one.
First things first: Keanu Reeves. He and his less-starry costar Alex Winter, as the San Dimas, Calif. friends for life, are now in their mid-50s. Now married (to their medieval princesses) with young adult daughters seriously into music, the duo isn’t a middle-aged extension of the duo introduced in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (1989) and “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” (1991). They’re pretty much exactly the same guys, although Reeves — with jet-black hair, chalky-white features and an air of karaoke reluctance — seems to have re-learned the character from a Kabuki theater master.
Returning screenwriters Ed Solomonand Chris Matheson make “Face the Music” as much about Bill and Ted’s daughters, played wittily, with their dads’ goodwill and a few of their mannerisms, by Samara Weavingand Brigette Lundy-Paine. The movie starts with Bill and Ted coping with their Wyld Stallyns career descent after hitting the heights in “Bogus Journey.” Their marriages are likewise on the ropes. These boy-men need to step up!
So they do, in a what-the-hell plot featuring Holland Taylor as the Great Leader of 28th Century; Kristen Schaal as the daughter of time-travel coach Rufus (George Carlin in the first two films); and, among other “Bill & Ted” alums and newcomers, William Sadler’s invaluable Czech-accented Reaper, exercising his own peculiarly lethal comic timing.