Review – Party On, Dudes! Again! (“Bill and Ted Face The Music”)

It’s been 29 years since Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) went to Hell (if you remember the events of 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.) Ever since then, the cult following that is B&T has kept growing, thanks to the internet and fans everywhere. Will Wyld Stallyns rise again?


*
Well, the predictions made in the sequel sorta came true. Bill S. Preston Esq. (Winter) and his BFF, Ted Theodore Logan (Reeves) and their band, Wyld Stallyns did bring us world peace, but only for a while. As with most bands, Wyld Stallyns broke up, and with it, the guys sunk into deep funks. Even their rockin’ daughters, Thea Preston and Billie Logan (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine) or their Princess wives, Joanna and Elizabeth (Jayma Mays and Erinn Hays) can’t help them. In fact, it’s gotten SO bad that they get a visit from Kelly (Kristin Schaal), the daughter of time-traveling Rufus from the future. Seems there’s trouble in future paradise and B&T are the key.

The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) tells B&T that they need to reunite and come up with a song that unites all humanity across time and space or else all reality will collapse unto itself! It’s so serious that key historical figures are even popping in and out of their own time periods. While B&T are trying to get couples therapy with their wives, they decide to borrow their old time-traveling phone booth and steal the song from themselves in the future, but they get big a surprise from their future selves who are, well, total dicks!

As B&T are busy with their adventures, Thea & Billie are off on their own, borrowing Kelly’s egg-shaped time-machine and stealing famous musicians from history to help their dad’s, much like B&T did in the first movie. They grab Jimi Hendrix (Dazman Still), Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft), Mozart (Daniel Dorr), Chinese flutist Ling Lun (Sharon Gee), and a B.C. African drummer (Patty Anne Miller). But everyone is threatened by a killer robot from the future who likes to be called Dennis (Anthony Carrigan).

As fate has it, everyone winds up in Hell at one point, which is undoubtedly the funniest part of the movie, ’cause they meet Death (William Sadler) who was kicked out of the band for his 40-minute solos! LOL! The scene with Death and B&T is worth the price of admission (or your online purchase) alone. But! Will this new Wyld Stallyns band be enough to save the world? Will daughters Thea & Billie come to their dad’s rescue in time with Kid Cudi? And did you know Jesus plays a mean cowbell? I didn’t!

Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest, Red 2) directs this super fast-paced movie, written by the same guys from the OG series, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, and boy! They didn’t miss a beat after all these years. Like putting on an old pair of socks, Winter & Reeves slipped comfortably into their old roles and acted right at home, although Keanu looked more like he was doing an imitation of his old character. The story, if a bit convoluted, moves at a quick 88-minute clip, which makes the movie one of the shortest ever. With such a shortened time-frame you miss alot, especially with character backstories, so you better know your B&T history or you’ll miss many jokes, gags, and inside references!

The real fun is watching the antics of Weaving and Lundy-Paine as they perfectly ape their fathers in mannerisms and vocal inflections. I would have liked to have seen the two Princesses do more other than look concern, but with this short film, that wasn’t to be. A real shame. And again, like in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, William Sadler steals the movie from Reeves & Winter with his hilarious dead-pan (pardon the pun) take on Death, even if he shows up late in act three. All in all, for a movie that took nearly 30 years for a threequel, it was well worth the wait! Party, on dude!!  

**Limited availabilty in theaters nationwide, but streaming exclusively on VUDU  

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)


*
The one started it all. Ridiculous time-travel tropes started back in 1989 with this gem. The nutty script, penned by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, had two out-to lunch metal-heads named Bill S. Preston Esq. (Alex Winter) and his BFF, Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) who are struggling to make their band, Wyld Stallyns, be the next big thing.

Trouble is, they’re idiots. As high school students in San Dimas, California, if they don’t pass their upcoming history presentation, they’ll fail and Ted’s police captain father will ship Ted off to military camp… in Alaska! Luckily, a super-cool time-traveler from the future named Rufus (George Carlin–perfectly cast) arrives in a phone-booth time machine with news that they, Bill and Ted, are revered in the year 2688, thanks to their music and wisdom! Who knew? To kick-start their greatness (and to save Ted from dire consequences), Rufus lends them his phone booth and B & T are off on an excellent adventure through time to meet and greet some of the great figures in history. And while they’re at it, why not kidnap them for their history assignment at school?

They first grab Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camilleri) who, not speaking any English, goes crazy at Raging Waters and develops a serious jones for ice cream. They next grab Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), Socrates (Tony Steedman), Joan of Arc (Jane Weidlin), Beethoven, (Clifford David), Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron), and Genghis Khan (Al Leong). Having never experienced the 20th Century, their experiences at a local shopping mall are, needless to say, the highlight of the film. Seeing Billy the Kid and Socrates try and pick up girls while Joan of Arc leads a Jazzercize program is great!

Bill and Ted present their ultimate history report at school utilizing their newfound friends, which naturally gets them both a passing grade. Afterward, after all the historical figures are returned, Rufus comes back with a gift for the boys: two princesses from the future who will be part of their Wyld Stallyns band. In other words, stay tuned for the sequel! Directed by Stephen Herek (The Three Musketeers), it’s very silly, but very funny and has the dubious distinction of pulling a hat trick by coming out with a sequel that actually bested the original.

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (originally titled, Bill and Ted Go To Hell) came out in 1991 and was hysterical, with the boys being killed off and eventually playing board games against the Grim Reaper (William Sadler) to save their souls. These movies essentially put Keanu on the map with his trademark, “Whoa”, and lackadaisical acting and look. Just goofy enough to be fun and charming enough to be likable, B & T is just a fun movie all around.

No fart jokes, no bad language, just clever writing and a damn good script for the whole family. So popular was the B & T franchise, that it spawned a Saturday morning kids cartoon series, a 7-episode live-action TV series, comic books, video games, and spoofs of their time-traveling antics at both Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm’s Halloween Scary Nights. I’ve seen it. It’s a scream!! (no pun intended)

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