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BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC gets 6/10 Out of tune, dude


Directed by Dean Parisot

Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Anthony Carrigan, William Sadler

6/10

The time travels, the alternative realities, and the invisible guitar licks are back. Bill and Ted, the slacker icons of their generation, return after nearly a three decade break. There’s not a whole lot of change in their characters or the film’s formula. They’re once again trying to keep the universe from collapsing – by using the power of music! Their joyous attitude to life is infectious to see (even when they’re in hell), but this may just come across as a celebratory reunion rather than an actual continuation of their story.

Bookended by horrifically truncated narration (explaining away Bill and Ted’s destiny), Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) receive a call from the future to finally finish their song that is meant to bring about global unity, otherwise the entire fabric of the universe will collapse – for whatever reason. So the dude duo get into the time-machine phone-booth, hopping from one timeline to another, trying to find a version of themselves that has finished the song so they can bring it to the present.

The logics of the time-travel are severely thrown out the window, which I suppose comedy films can get away with easier than any other genre. But much of the dialogue here is either time-travel related plot exposition or “whoa, dude” reactions to such exposition. It’s hard to imagine that this threequel’s script has been worked on for so long, yet there’s very little room for jokes from one scenario to another.

Much of the actual laughs don’t come from the titular duo (and it certainly doesn’t come from their daughters), but there are plenty to be had from killer robot Dennis (Anthony Carrigan), who sends his foes straight to hell, and the return of Death (William Sadler) who awaits them there. They both work with the contrast between how grandly threatening they may appear to be, and how timid they actually are.

As for the whole music aspect of the film, it seems even that’s been pushed to the side. There isn’t much of Bill and Ted doing anything music-related, though their daughters do get to go on that musical journey, travelling through time and putting together a super-band of the best musicians to ever live (for whatever reason).

There are a handful of good moments between Bill and Ted, but a handful is far too few. The film’s uncaring and unbridled whackiness will be either audacious or aggravating depending on each viewer, but this long awaited entry in this series is low on laughs and high on self-congratulating.

DAVID MORGAN-BROWN

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