Keanu Reeves turned 56 today, and for those of us who grew up crushing on him (and kinda still do), this fact feels — in the words of lovable dude bros Bill and Ted — bogus. Gen-Xers in general tend to have an aversion to adulting and we think it’s because of music. Today’s middle-agers grew up with so much rad music, didn’t we? Arguably, we also had a bigger appreciation for our parents’ music than previous or subsequent generations, and all that rocking and rolling had a magical effect: it stopped time! Ok, maybe not on the outside (there’s Botox for that) but definitely on the inside. Bill and Ted are perfect examples.
Reeves and his on screen bestie Alex Winter’s return in the new threequel Bill & Ted Face the Music makes for a simple, rather silly little movie, but the first two were too. This one conveys the wonder and fantasy of the original, bringing about nostalgic feels, even while milking modern reality as its core premise. Twenty-five years since the adventure of the first film, these two wide-eyed, whimsical buds are now dads (with dad bods to match); they have marital problems and most importantly, unfulfilled destinies that go beyond average father figure failings. Their wives are the medieval princesses they met in the earlier films and their destiny is of course, to save the world.
The time traveling phone booth is back and so is “Death” though his appearance comes far too late in this new journey. As we saw in B&T’s second installment, the duo’s global concert broadcast with their band, Wyld Stallyns, was a success, but apparently it wasn’t enough. The daughter (Kristen Schaal) of their original time ambassador Rufus (now deceased comedy legend George Carlin) takes them to the future where they’re informed by her mother (Holland Taylor) that they have about 77 minutes to unite the world with their music and “save reality.” They have yet to write the ditty to do this in the current timeline, so they travel to the future to snag it from their even more aged selves, which sets up a fun cameo scene with Dave Grohl (the ultimate cool rock pops) and a couple of past-changing-the-present meta moments we expect from time travel films.
Meanwhile, the guys’ teen daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and (Samara Weaving), go on their own adventure, gathering the greatest musicians in history to jam and hopefully play their dads’ epic tune once it’s written. Writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon do a nice job of capturing the previous films’ charm and stoner/surfer speak while director Dean Parisot -known for a slate of strong TV work- brings a light, slightly satiric vibe to the story set-up. We watched this one with our own teen daughter and she didn’t buy the youth’s storyline at all however, noting that Gen-Z is generally disinterested in music from the past. Still, she did know Weaving and Paine from their roles in The Babysitter and Atypical, respectively, so they were good casting choices for younger audiences at least.
Despite the offspring angle, this film is clearly not made for teens. It’s a movie meant to give older audiences and maybe the retro nerd contingent, a fun and fluffy, warm and fuzzy escape. It’s also a movie for younger Reeves fans, providing an opportunity to see where he came from. Most know him as the enigmatic Neo from The Matrix or the dynamic badass from the John Wick movies, not the long-haired sweet simpleton here (or the tousled, denim-vested hesher we fell in love with in River’s Edge… if you don’t know that one, google it now)! However flimsy Face The Music may be story-wise, one thing is for sure- watching an iconic star pay homage to his bodacious beginnings with the kind of heart the actor brings here makes for a most excellent flashback.
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