You see, Bill & Ted Face the Music is a bodacious conclusion to the story of these characters (albeit one that welcomely sets the stage for a passing of the torch to the next generation). More than that? It’s a sublimely crafted midlife crisis movie that touched me more than similarly themed works by Noah Baumbach ever could.
No, really. This movie is far more relatable than Marriage Story, even with all the time-displacement.
The film’s at times overly complex plot involves the future destroying itself because Bill and Ted have yet to write the song that Rufus (a much-missed George Carlin) told them would unite humanity. A quick info dump at the start of this movie addresses how after the most triumphant end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the pair and their Wyld Stallyns (which includes Death, again played here with scene-stealing glee by William Sadler) petered out following the success of their hit single “Those Who Rock.” In true Behind the Music fashion, breakups and lawsuits followed, and Wyld Stallyns were back to playing in their basements and Elks Lodge…forever searching for the song they are destined to write.
The fact that they continue to fail miserably at doing so gives the movie’s first fifteen minutes most of its comedic heft, until the plot begins to complicate itself, veering off into unexpected tangents. Rufus’ daughter Kelly (Kristen Schall of Bob’s Burgers and Flight of the Conchords fame) arrives from the future to tell Bill and Ted that their song needs to be written within hours otherwise not only will humanity be destroyed but the universe as well. (Time displacements are occurring throughout the world, resulting in Babe Ruth being transported back to the American revolution, among more chronological chaos). This discovery adds to the already tense marital relationships that Bill and Ted have with their wives Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes), the princesses they rescued back in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and whom are increasingly tired of their husbands acting like a unit instead of individuals.
This isn’t an issue that Bill and Ted’s daughters Thea (Samara Weaving) and Billie (Brigette Lundy Paine) have. Thea and Billie are devoted to their fathers entirely, offering them constant support as they write clunker after clunker. The characters are the breakout stars of Bill & Ted Face the Music, giving the film an emotional center for viewers to latch on to. Not to mention inspired casting, Weaving and Paine do an outstanding job of incorporating personality traits of Bill and Ted into their own performance in a master class in comedic subtlety.