Review Round-Up: Dean Parisot’s Bill & Ted Face the Music

Is the return of Wyld Stallyns most excellent? Or totally bogus?
Bill & Ted Face the Music - Dean Parisot
Ted “Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq.

When Ted ​“Theodore” Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq. first rocked out as Wyld Stallyns back in 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, who knew that the full-time slackers and burgeoning rockers would launch a cinematic franchise? But here we are in 2020, and the duo — played by Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter — have returned to complete the trilogy and (hopefully) ensure humanity’s utopian future.

It’s been nearly thirty years since Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and since then, both Reeves and Winter have moved on. Reeves, in particular, has become one of Hollywood’s most bankable action stars, thanks to the Matrix and John Wick films. Would bringing the band back together for a third Bill & Ted movie recapture the original’s goofy magic, or would it just crash and burn?

Bill & Ted Face the Music — directed by Dean Parisot, who has earned some eternal good will for Galaxy Quest — arrived in theaters this week (it’s also available to rent online) and critics have begun posting their reviews. Can Wyld Stallyns help redeem 2020? Read on to see what critics are saying.

Jason Bailey, ​“The long-awaited third installment is a cheery delight”:

The conclusion of ​“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is pure corn, and by that point, they’ve earned it. It’s a film that’s somehow both offhand and meticulous, shaggy yet crisp, and the apparent joy of its creation is infectious. I laughed through a lot of it, and smiled through the rest. What a treat this movie is.

Bonnie Burton, ​“A most excellent adventure through time”:

Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are back as Bill and Ted, just when the world needs them the most. And while we haven’t seen these besties for almost 30 years, they can still teach us a few things about love, friendship and being excellent to each other. Bill & Ted Face the Music is a joyous, fun, charming adventure, and a great reminder of how music can bring us together in times of chaos.

Linda Holmes, ​“I was very happy to see these guys again:

In the end, what’s always distinguished Bill & Ted is a weird sweetness in the deeply dependent relationship between the two of them and their shared belief that together, they were destined for greatness. And that sweetness does reemerge (along with the hilarious way that they are presented as long-haired guitar rockers and their music is always very dorky pop), and by the third act, it feels like an entirely worthy follow-up.

Eric Kohn, ​“A delightful celebration of stupidity that could save the world”:

Resurrecting the fantasy of the earlier entries, ​“Bill & Ted Face the Music” doesn’t devolve into a pure nostalgia play. It’s just another ​“Bill & Ted” movie — kooky, surreal, and completely adherent to its own playbook. And that’s why, more or less, it works. Even when this fun mess of a movie lacks focus, rushing through cheeky celebrity cameos and half-baked gags, it does so with conviction. It’s a celebration of unfettered ridiculousness that bares its soul.

Johnny Oleksinski, ​“This whole half-baked sequel is a forced exercise”:

You can still feel the crumbs of chemistry between Reeves and Winter, who is more believable in his part because he makes fewer major movies. But you can also sense their exhaustion and ambivalence.

Katie Rife, ​“A sequel that’s neither excellent nor completely bogus”:

The Bill & Ted movies derive much of their humor from the blending of extremely low and extremely high stakes. Face The Music kind of blows it on the former: For all the preaching about the importance of togetherness and unity, the film mostly keeps its fiftysomething stars and their kids apart. Which is a shame, as the younger Logan and Preston are a hoot — particularly Lundy-Paine, who replicates Reeves’ dopey facial expressions and burnout inflection with precision. And while the high stakes couldn’t be higher, the film simply takes too long to find its focus. It’s not the most excellent of outcomes, but not a total bummer, either.

Richard Roeper, ​“Being excellent is infrequent in the belated threequel”:

The first ​“Bill & Ted” movie was unbearably corny and just barely carried the day thanks to its snark-free spirit and the two charming leads. The sequel was a mediocre serving of warmed-up leftovers. Suffering through ​“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is like attending a reunion concert of a two-hit wonder band you loved in high school, and realizing their original material wasn’t all that great in the first place.

Mel Valentin, ​“Worth the wait for longtime Bill and Ted fans”:

Besides the reintroduction of old-school favorites like the Reaper and, of course, the title characters themselves, Bill & Ted Face the Music mines several, overlapping themes for comedic effect, specifically the conflict between youthful expectations and dreams, and often harsh reality of adulthood, where expectations and dreams have to be recalibrated and readjusted downwards and values (i.e., career vs. family or personal life) have to follow. Bill & Ted Face the Music also contains an element of meta-fictional commentary on the rise and fall of creative careers that tend to follow with some regularity.

Katie Walsh, ​“Somewhere between bogus and excellent”:

As Bill and Ted bounce through time, the narratives of these films are merely loose assortments of kooky bits and cameos, and ​“Face the Music” doesn’t stray from that. While it doesn’t quite gel cohesively, in this casual kickback with a pair of old pals, it’s the dudes who remain excellent.

Stephanie Zacharek, ​“The dose of time-travel lunacy we need now”:

[W]hat people want from Bill & Ted Face the Music matters a lot less than what it actually is, a crazy, imperfect but deeply gratifying burst of optimism at the end of what has been — inarguably — a terrible summer. Its ramshackle earnestness, its certainty about nothing beyond the fact that we need to get our act together as human beings, is its great strength.

Bill & Ted Face the Music is currently playing in theaters and can be rented online. Watch the trailer below.