2 out of 5 stars
Time travel is always a tricky thing to manage in film and literature. The impact on each character that is drawn into this metaphysical narrative is usually irrevocably changed. The same can be said about the reintroduction of a franchise that has been dormant for over 30 years. Fans and audiences who can remember the original Bill & Ted films may have very different reactions to these cult figures materialising in our lives again. Regardless if these memories are good or bad, these time travellers are back and hope that we will welcome them into our lives again.
Over the past three decades, Bill Preston (Alex Winter) and Ted Logan (Keanu Reeves) have been trying to live up to the prophecy that was spoken of them in 1989. The founders of Wyld Stallions were meant to write the song that was supposed to unite the world. A daunting task for two underachievers, but their naive enthusiasm has driven them to search for and unearth the holy grail of music. This task has kept their lives and families tethered together over the years, but the ties that bind are beginning to fray.
Their marriages are falling apart, their extended family’s patience has worn thin and the men’s daughters seem to be following the same path of musical lethargy. Until they are visited by a messenger from the future named Kelly (Kristen Schaal) who happens to be the daughter of their time-travelling mentor, Rufus (George Carlin). She takes them into the future to motivate them to break free from their long-standing writers’ block. The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) of the future informs the two men that they have until 7:17 p.m. that very night to write the song or all reality will cease to exist. A fearful message that leads to a desperate act. They decide to travel into the future and steal the song from themselves. This plan seems to have merit, until they are confronted by their future selves who prove to be less than helpful in meeting this overwhelming deadline.
Watching the disastrous repercussions that these two slackers have on the space-time continuum is only rivalled by the emotions felt by those who saw these films during their original release. An experience that can only be described as bewilderment and embarrassment that this is what people may think entertained people from a previous generation. What may have been hilarious to the young impressionable minds of the teens of the 80s and 90s, does not transition well into this modern era. The story, the characters and the concept seem to be a relic from the past that should have remained there.
Keanu Reeves has had a resurgence of his career with the John Wick franchise, but it is confusing why he would revisit this franchise. When he originally played Ted, he seemed to embody that persona with an unusual depth. While 30 years later he can only manage to portray a caricature of his younger self. This whole project could be a means of throwing a bone to Alex Winter who has found more success behind the camera since the original films. Another consideration is that these two actors may be attempting to pass the mantle to female versions of themselves. A tactic that has proven less than successful with Ghostbusters and the Oceans 11 franchise. Even though Brigette Lundy-Paine (Atypical) who plays Ted’s daughter was a highlight of the film.
Some might say that Bill & Ted Face the Music is meant for the fans, but are there any true followers left? There is a scene in the film where the pair contemplate the fan base for Wyld Stallions in which they can identify the two or three fans by name. This seems to be a prophetic statement about this film franchise. Most likely there are few who truly remember Bill & Ted and nothing about this film is going to garner a new following. At least now they have a trilogy to add to the package for future streaming releases. A nostalgic anthology of a by-gone era of cinema that should encourage these time-travellers to remain in antiquity and play their air guitars.
Reel Dialogue: What is your legacy?
To think that a film like Bill & Ted Face the Music could lead to deeper thinking, you would be wrong. The topic for discussion would have to be legacy. Specifically, your own. Does your life offer anything to your family, your community and will that influence remain into the future.
In the Christian tradition, a legacy goes beyond monetary security, political influence or merely protecting the family name. These things are important to ponder, but ultimately they are temporal in the end. Which begs the question, “What is the most important aspect of my legacy I want to pass onto my family?”
For the follower of Christ, this is an eternal consider and is less in a family name and entirely placed in the name of Jesus Christ. The belief in the Saviour’s name is actually the only legacy that will last.
This movie and this discussion open the door to asking all, “What do you see as your legacy?”