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Blu-ray review: Bill and Ted Face the Music

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Available on digital now and on Blu-ray on the 25th of January, Bill and Ted Face the Music is written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (who wrote the first two Bill and Ted’s), directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest) and stars Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Alex Winter (Freaked).

31 years after their excellent adventure and 29 since their bogus journey, the ‘Wyld Stallyns’, Bill S. Preston Esq. (Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Reeves), return to face the music. The boys’ band has faded into musical obscurity, leaving them struggling with new experimental material, playing weddings and letting down their wives – the princesses.

With George Carlin, who played Rufus, sadly passed away, Kristen Schaal takes over as his daughter and the boys’ life and time travel mentor and reveals to them that the band’s self-destruction will cause all of space and time to fold in on itself unless they play a new amazing song to save the world.

Bereft of any artistic mojo, Bill and Ted decide to cheat the songwriting by travelling forward in time to hear it after they’ve already written it and then travelling back and playing it *air guitar*. Meanwhile, their twenty-something music geek daughters Billie and Thea (Brigette Lundy-Paine – The Glass Castle and Samara Weaving – Ready or Not) do some time-travelling of their own to assemble a new band.

The dual narratives see the boys meeting various versions of their future selves in skits that range from the vaguely amusing: them fat and bald and them as tattooed muscle-bound prisoners, to the sad and depressing: old and dying in a care home; and the girls collecting musical figures from throughout history like Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, and Kid Cudi playing himself.

I love Excellent Adventure and wore out my 4 Front video back in the day, and I will always stick up for Bogus Journey having seen it in the cinema, so I honestly feel like I’m kicking puppies not liking the third instalment when it is so happy-go-lucky and absolutely desperate to please – but I just didn’t enjoy the third part very much.

There’s some really poor green screen, a tacked-on intro that tries to make a muddled and under-explored narrative clearer and the valley dudes schtick is sometimes a bit cringe coming from the mouths and bods of two late-50-somethings. At it’s best, Face the Music is slight, cute and vaguely amusing, but it is all just so cheap and rushed feeling, with scenes and a script that feel awkward and are just not funny.

In terms of the disc, the video encode is perfect with no problems or artefacts and the DTS 5.1 is a nice and full mix, with plenty of action from the surrounds and the sub woofer. Also present is an audio descriptive audio track and hard-of-hearing subtitles, as well as German and Spanish audio and subs.

As is sadly the case with the majority of studio disc output, the menus are boring and templated, but there – at first glance – is what seems like a decent amount of extras. Things start well with ‘The Official Bill and Ted Face the Music Panel at Comic-Con at Home’ which is a forty-three-minute presentation via Zoom moderated by Kevin Smith, featuring Reeves, Winter, Weaving, Lundy-Paine, Sadler, writers Matheson and Solomon and director Parisot.

I love Kevin Smith, but being Kevin Smith, no one gets a word in for ten minutes. But a geek’s geek, he does ask decent questions and everyone comes across as very nice with lots of interesting info nuggets. Thanks to Covid, it’s done over a video call, but on-screen graphics and clever cutting make it look good in spite of that.

The extras tail off quickly after this. ‘Be Excellent To Each Other’ is just 80 seconds of everyone saying how lovely everyone was to work with, ‘A Most Triumphant Duo’ is a quick 77 sec spot explaining how Alex Winter and Keanu got first cast and ‘Social Piece (Excellence)’ is another less-than-a-minute-long lot of nothing. The final extra, ‘Death’s Crib’, is good though and is Bill Sadler as his character ‘Death’ doing an ‘MTV Cribs’ skit taking us around his apartment in hell.

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Bill and Ted Face the Music is available on digital now and on Blu-ray on the 25th of January.

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