This is one of the best ways to end a trilogy.
Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) are two teenagers who dream of musical success as the band “Wyld Stallyns.” In the first film, Bill and Ted are confronted by a time-traveler named Rufus (George Carlin), who gives them a time machine so that the pair can pass their history final and keep the band together. In the process, they meet a number of historical figures, but also two princesses named Joanna and Elizabeth (Kimberley Kates/Jayma Mays and Diane Franklin/Erinn Hayes). They succeed in passing the exam and, with the help of Rufus, start the band with the princesses. Rufus reveals that Wyld Stallyns’ music will one day turn Earth into a utopia. In the second film, Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland), a villain from the future, kills Bill and Ted using two evil robot copies, forcing them to confront Death (William Sadler) and go through the afterlife in order to defeat the bad robots. At the end, the pair stop De Nomolos, marry the princesses, have two kids, and perform a hit song in front of the entire world.
Well, turns out that the concert was not the act that changed the world into a utopia. Now, almost thirty years later, Bill and Ted are still trying to figure out the song they need to write to create the perfect future while raising their music-enthusiast daughters Billie Logan and Thea Preston (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) with their wives. The duo are confronted by Kelly (Kristen Schaal), the daughter of Rufus, who comes to take them to meet the great leader, her mother (Holland Taylor), who informs the pair that they have only a few hours to perform the song or else the entire universe unravels. Bill and Ted set off to create the single greatest musical hit in the multiverse.
The category for this one was “Film World You Want To Live In,” and this was a tough one. You’d think you want to live in Middle Earth or in Star Wars, but a lot of the time those places are in constant turmoil. If you’re not a chosen one, you’re probably going to get killed. Narnia? You’d better worship Lion Neeson. Harry Potter? Fine if you’re a wizard, but if you’re a muggle somebody might mind-erase you into forgetting your kids. Also, wizard Hitlers abound. So, my finalists were originally Star Trek, because it’s a future in which all of humanity lives in a constant state of self-actualization, and Mirrormask, because the City of Light is amazing as long as you occasionally stop a thief on their way out of the town. However, on August 28th, the universe (and United Artists), gave me a sign by releasing Bill and Ted Face the Music. Not only was it a fantastic third entry to the franchise, but it was a stark reminder of the attitude that made the first two films amazing. Plus, it removed the somewhat cringeworthy-in-hindsight homophobia.
Bill and Ted, the characters, stood out among the litany of similar characters because they were always positive. Despite the fact that Ted’s dad ridiculed the two or that they had absolutely no musical talent, they always had an optimistic outlook towards not just themselves, but the world in general. No matter how much the world threw at them, up to literally sending them to a Tim Burton-esque Hell, the two never surrendered that point of view. It often seemed connected to their valley-boy/stoner personalities and seemingly lower intelligence, but as they constantly prove to be smarter than most people expect, that doesn’t appear to be the case. In fact, it’s revealed that they seem to instinctively understand the universe better than most people, from time travel to the meaning of life. Instead of just being idiots, it’s that the two have an incredible ability to try and move past any injustice done to them. It’s honestly like a form of enlightenment summarized as “Be excellent to each other” and “Party on, dudes.” The fact that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves were completely perfect in their portrayals was just the icing on the cake.
A big reason why this universe is so amazing, and why I’d want to live in it, is that these two form the backbone of the future. Not some great orator or a general, but two relaxed guitar dudes who just want everyone to get along and have fun. It’s somehow the most optimistic version of the future I can think of. Almost everyone is happy, the universe is peaceful, and, most amazingly, history and the arts are the most influential subjects. When we see the future of Bill and Ted, it’s not driven just by science or exploration like most sci-fi futures, but by appreciation for the humanities. In fact, when we see the flaws in the future, they’re almost all associated with people who are opposed to music or too dedicated to the sciences to appreciate anything else.
Also, unlike most films depicting a great future, the one presented by Bill and Ted is focused heavily on education reform. While Bill and Ted might be failing history in High School when they’re repeatedly drilled on facts, they manage to learn a great deal in a short period (less than a day) when they start interacting with the historical figures. We then see in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey that, in the future, this is how education works, through interactive learning. Moreover, they constantly find ways to use what they do know (song lyrics and pop culture) and apply it to other situations, something that I, a person who loves to integrate pop culture with everything, really appreciate.
But the biggest reason why I love this universe came in the third movie. So, ****SPOILER ALERT*** if you haven’t seen it. Go buy it now and come back after you’ve enjoyed it. At the end of Bill and Ted Face the Music, it’s revealed that Bill and Ted actually aren’t the key to the universe. While they do play part of the song, and amazingly, it’s their daughters that arrange the music by going through history and combining a number of styles of music into a song that can appeal to anyone. Music is one of the few things that almost every culture has created since the dawn of humanity, so it makes sense that it’s the thing that can unite humanity. Then, the film ends not with a dedication to the song, but with the simple observation that the song wasn’t the important part: it’s that everyone played it together. Everyone managed to just find one thing for one second that they could agree on, and that’s all it took. And I find that hopeful, because even though the world may seem super divided, there is always a chance that someone out there will find that one thing that can bring us together and that it probably won’t be some grand speech or some scholarly lecture. It’ll be something that everyone can appreciate. Maybe it’ll be a drunken blog post, who knows.
Overall, I loved this movie and the two that preceded it. Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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