Bill & Ted Face the Music review: A most excellent adventure through time – CNET

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Dads and daughters team up to save the universe in Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Orion Pictures
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Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back as Bill and Ted, just when the world needs them most. And while we haven't seen the besties for almost 30 years, they can still teach us a few things about love, friendship and being excellent to one another. Bill & Ted Face the Music, now in theaters and streaming as well, is a joyous, fun, charming adventure, and a great reminder of how music can bring us together in times of chaos. 

The film opens with the duo's band Wyld Stallyns performing ... at a wedding. But not just any wedding. Apparently Missy the babysitter (Amy Stoch) who married Bill's dad, then divorced him and married Ted's dad, has divorced him to marry Ted's brother. Yikes.

But that's not the worst part. Wyld Stallyns had a brief stint at fame, but in true rock 'n' roll fashion they had a falling out with band member Death. Now Bill and Ted are experimenting and failing with their music. But while the band tries to reclaim its former glory, it seems its members will have an even more important reason to rock. 

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Bill and Ted try their best to entertain at an awkward wedding.

Orion Pictures

Bill and Ted's mentor Rufus (played by the late, great George Carlin) is no longer alive except in holographic form, but his daughter Kelly (played by Kristen Schaal) travels to Earth in an egg-shaped pod to tell the fellas they're needed once again to help rescue us all. 

Only Bill and Ted can save the universe with a kick-ass song, though it's a bit unclear how their music will stop impending destruction of space and time. The problem is the Wyld Stallyns haven't been able to come up with a tune worthy of a wedding reception, let alone saving the world, and they only have 77 minutes to come up with it.

Since they aren't inspired to write the perfect song now, Bill and Ted decide they'll just hop in their trusty time travel phone booth, and steal it from their future selves. 

This time they have extra help from their two music-loving daughters Theodora "Thea" Preston (Samara Weaving) and Wilhelmina "Billie" Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine). They get the idea to help by time-traveling themselves via Kelly's egg pod to form the perfect backup band by recruiting legendary musical performers throughout history like Jimi Hendrix and Mozart. 

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Bill and Ted's daughters played by Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving recruit a backup band for the dads which includes Kid Cudi.

Patti Perret/Orion Pictures

Before you wonder if there are too many weird elements to make sense, it's not a Bill and Ted adventure unless craziness ensues. This is where the movie's screenwriters Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson (who also worked on the previous Bill & Ted movies) really shine. 

Despite multiple time machines jumping and a mix of historical figures interacting with each other, plus an assassin robot popping in and out, Solomon and Matheson have crafted a script that actually makes sense. 

The best parts of the movie involve the different versions of Bill and Ted in the future, including the guys becoming con artists who pretend to live in rock star Dave Grohl's house and try to pawn off a Foo Fighters song to our heroes as their own.

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Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as future Bill and Ted in prison.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

The most satisfying comedy highlight of the movie is seeing very angry, muscle-bound, tattoo-covered versions of future Bill and Ted in prison. The looks on the present-day faces of Bill and Ted are priceless. This is as close to Ted becoming John Wick as we'll ever see in the movie. I applaud director Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) for perfectly capturing the comedic moments in this scene, which was apparently shot in 100-degree weather while the fellas were wearing 40-pound rubber muscle suits.

The movie has plenty of special moments and pop culture cameos that will make Bill and Ted fans (old and new) happy they tuned in. Be sure to watch for a special scene at the end after the credits roll to see Bill and Ted rock out even more.

But the real joy of the movie isn't necessarily the nostalgia. It's the positivity Bill and Ted ooze at every moment. They are indeed delusional optimists, but maybe we could all learn a thing or two about assuming the best outcome rather than instantly making disaster our default. 

With the world suffering from the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as destructive weather, political unrest and economic pressures, Bill and Ted are back to give us hope. When we work together for positive change, all is not lost. The pair's sage advice to "be excellent to each other" remains timeless. 

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