When writers Chris Matheson (A Goofy Movie) and Ed Solomon (Men in Black) first created the characters of Bill S. Preston, Esquire, and Ted Theodore Logan, they likely didn’t expect their creations to grab hold of the world for more than 31 years. But time is one of those illusive things where, no matter how hard we try to conceive the future, things play out in totally unexpected ways. Yet, here we are, celebrating the home release of Bill & Ted Face The Music, the third and final outing for the delightful himbos of San Dimas, California, whose prophecy of global unification comes to a head in a way expected yet entirely perfect and meaningful. With Warner Bros. Home Entertainment handling the home release side, audiences can enjoy the Wyld Stallyns in their full glory from the comfort of home beginning November 10th on Blu-ray and DVD.
Despite successes including playing the Grand Canyon, Wyld Stallyns frontmen Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Alex Winter), and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves) haven’t yet written the song they are destined to use to unite the world as one. With each new style of music, each new instrument, Bill and Ted grow as musicians in ways their Excellent Adventure selves could never believe, yet time is not on their side as even their respective wives, Princess Joanna (Jayma Mays) and Princess Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) can’t seem to bear the duos’ constant frustrations via temporal pressure. Things grow even more dire for the pair when Rufus’s (George Carlin) daughter Kelly (Kirsten Schaal) informs them that the entirety of time is folding in on itself and everything will cease to exist in 75 minutes if they do not perform the song at a specific location at a specific time. Faced with their greatest test to date, they devise a plan that may just save the day, but it’s one which may cost them everything if successful.
If you’d like to get a sense of Bill & Ted Face The Music without spoilers of any kind, head over to the theatrical review. Moving forward, there’s nothing off limits for discussion.
Since the formal release of Face The Music, I’ve seen the film a total of three times. That’s not a lot, I grant you, but in the scope of how many films I see for work, making the time to watch a film in any kind of repetition should suggest a yearning for continued viewings. I was never what one would call a “superfan” of the Bill & Ted films, though I do enjoy them a great deal and have two shirts bearing their names and/or likeness. Yet, upon hearing that Winter and Reeves would reunite to tell a final story about the delightfully sweet and always earnest dudes from San Dimas, I was beside myself with excitement. Maybe it’s because the last four years have felt like one breach of moral or ethical etiquette after another, one assault upon another with no real sense of justice being delivered, that the notion that we might once more enjoy a Wyld Stallyns adventure just seemed like a beacon of light in an oasis. Watching the film for the third time in preparation for this home release, tears involuntarily streaming down my face again, I was struck by just how pure, how innocent, how absolutely joyful this film is. It is optimism conjured into physical form, compiled of stellar performances, wholesome storytelling, and ear worm-worthy tunes. The stakes, on paper, seem like the largest Bill and Ted have ever faced (time and reality is folding in on itself!), but it’s the way Matheson and Solomon structure it and the way Winter and Reeves give it life that make it clear how the solution is entirely low stakes and absolutely personal.
So, the thing that many predicted about Face The Music that did, in fact, come to pass: it was not Bill and Ted who save the day, but their daughters: Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) and Billie Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine). This is likely to frustrate many who opt not to dig deeper into the narrative itself, but who expected the conclusion of the Wlyd Stallyns story to engage in some kind of wish fulfilment set in motion back in 1989. Except one specific thing they seem to forget about the prophecy itself: it’s the music of Wyld Stallyns which is said to bring the world together. Bill and Ted are Wyld Stallyns and whomever plays with them is undoubtedly in the band. So having Billie and Thea be the brains behind the music itself is not the cheat you might think. Instead, it’s truly the only way for the prophecy to come to light. If you consider the films as text, by the end of Excellent Adventure (1989), neither knew how to play and it was Rufus’s promise to the audience that they eventually learn. By the end of Bogus Journey (1991), not only could the boys play, but they got married and had kids. Even if the montage over the credits is taken as gospel (which the storyline in Face The Music seems very much to do), at no point was it suggested that they learned how to produce music. So let’s jump back to the present: Bill and Ted have been playing music and trying to write “the song” for the entirety of their daughters lives. They are obviously engaged and supportive parents and their daughters very much take after them, yet, like most generations, they learn from their parents’ vacancies. Bill and Ted understand music, but Billie and Thea understand music history and the connections that bind the current generation of music (in any time) back to its roots throughout history. To see those pathways requires an incredible mind and the universe was gifted with two. So when it comes down to the moment when all of time and reality are at their most vulnerable and the music is about to begin, Bill and Ted aren’t relegated to back-up as some may believe, they are put exactly where they belong: with their fingers on the strings, ready to jam, while someone else does the thinking for them.
Then there’s the narrative itself, something so seemingly plain yet riddled with complexity. Terrified of their own failures and faced with a looming deadline, Ted asks why they don’t just take the song from themselves in the future. This is, of course, a no-no as far as time travel is concerned, but this allows the two to learn a lesson about the weight of their own choices and how they have to start making on their own, without help and independent of each other. Take the second meeting with future Bill and Ted when Bill exclaims that the Princesses left because of their bad choices “like this” and he pulls out a gun. Future Bill is supremely aware that he’s making a bad choice yet is unable to do anything differently. Future Ted doesn’t do anything quite as egregious, but the excessive drinking (something which current Ted does not do) and the inability to get along with his past self does imply a certain loss of control and an abundance of self-loathing. With each journey into their future, things seem dim, even as they learn things like their daughters don’t talk to them or that their wives never return. But then something happens in the form of Dennis Caleb McCoy, Anthony Carrigan’s scene-stealing assassin from the future tasked with killing Bill and Ted. Before Dennis catches the pair, he’s already killed Chief Logan (Hal Landon Jr.), Billie, Thea, and the time-traveling band they’ve assembled. How could the daughters of the future speak to Future Bill and Future Ted if they’re dead? It’s something the darling himbos may not have realized as their wives never returned to tell them. What happens next is the boys sacrifice themselves so that they can get to their daughters in Hell, ultimately reuniting them with Death (William Sadler), which gives them the final piece in the time-saving journey. We get the ending we do because Bill and Ted recognize that their choices regarding their family, not fame or all of existence, are what make the difference when it counts, that by being loving, supportive parents and by being open in their communication with their wives, they can fulfil their destiny. Matheson and Solomon have a track record of weaving positive messaging and philosophical thought into their works and Face The Music is no exception. In fact, the messaging becomes more clear with each successive viewing.
If there is a downside to the home release experience of Face The Music, it’s the special features. In total, the Blu-ray and digital editions come with five pieces of material that enable the home audience to learn a bit more about the making of the film. The trick is that two of them were released online ahead of the simultaneous VOD and theater release in August, while another was streamed online for free during July’s Comic-Con 2020 virtual event. If you happened to miss the Kevin Smith-led discussion between the main cast, director Dean Parisot, and the writers, then you’re in for a treat. Amid the topics discussed are the original auditions for Excellent Adventure, the preparations Weaving and Lundy-Paine underwent to get ready for Face The Music, and their favorite memories of being on set. Even if Smith is quite a bit cringe-worthy for most of it, fans of either Face The Music or the entire Bill & Ted filmography will enjoy the 43 minute recording. One real treat is “Death’s Crib,” a 1 minute featurette of Sadler in character explaining the various adornments of his home in Hell. It’s quite funny and would’ve been fun as a further extended featurette.
As I sit here writing this home release review, the music comprising the soundtrack to Face The Music is pouring through my computer speakers, filling my office with the exact same joy and warmth as the film itself, so much so that I can’t help but well up as “Face The Music,” a.k.a. “The Song,” or “Right Where You Belong” from Blame My Youth, one of two tracks that played over the credits. The movies were never really about music, yet, at the end, the music is what brings them, their family, and us, incredible closure. Their job is done. The world became united, even if briefly, and sometimes, that’s all we need to pull ourselves out of a profound funk. Hope springs eternal, indeed.
Bill & Ted Face The Music Blu-ray Special Features
- The Official Bill & Ted Face The Music Panel at Comic-Con@Home (43:12)
- Be Excellent to Each Other (1:20)
- A Most Triumphant Duo (1:16)
- Death’s Crib (1:11)
- Social Piece (Excellence) (0:47)
Bill & Ted Face The Music DVD Special Features
- Be Excellent to Each Other (1:20)
Available on digital October 20th, 2020.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD November 10th, 2020.