Bill & Ted: A Nostalgic Adventure
It’s easy to write both characters off as simply ‘stupid’ but if you look deeper, I think both Bill and Ted harbour an eternal optimism that they both encourage in each other.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is probably one of the most important movies of 2020.
In order for me to speak about this as honestly as I need to, I must first warn there are massive spoilers ahead for the ending of “Bill & Ted Face the Music”. That was your one and only warning, go watch the movie and immediately come back here to read this article.
Bill and Ted, now middle-aged men, have yet to fulfil their bodacious destiny. That is to write the song that unites the world. I am not a movie reviewer, I am a musician and a writer, but I have a heart that is so rarely warmed that once this movie had me in tears, I knew I had to talk about it.
The plot itself is exactly what you think it will be, the familiar movie we have already seen before. “Bill and Ted go through a ‘most unprecedented’ experience.” This time with the added element of their daughters (also Bill and Ted/Billie and Thea) travelling through time to help their dads on their mission to unite the world and this time save the universe itself.
If you’re unfamiliar with its predecessors of the late eighties/early nineties, Bill and Ted are two adorably dim-witted, idealistic kids with dreams of becoming rock stars in their garage band ‘Wyld Stallyns”. As a dreamer myself and most definitely dim-witted I relate to Bill and Ted on an innocent level, they are both genuine people with no ill intentions, desperately misunderstood in a world that is much darker than both of them. It’s easy to write both characters off as simply ‘stupid’ but if you look deeper, I think both Bill and Ted harbour an eternal optimism that they both encourage in each other.
Neither “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” nor “Excellent Adventure”, tried to be anything other than the sincere, light-hearted B movies they knew themselves to be. That was the magic of that era, it understood the time and the generation it was in and it never tried to be anything other than that. “Wayne’s World” and “Airheads” had that magic and beauty to them. The movies that celebrated the people that dared to dream and chose to believe in themselves so much, that the end outcome generally brought them exactly what they were looking for. Movies that didn’t laugh at the stereotypical ‘metalhead’ for dreaming, but showed the deep love found inside these people.
Which leads me back to Bill and Ted 3, the fact that thirty years on this movie has finally been released says a lot for the fandom it created. A fandom that can only exist from a place of purity. Those nostalgic dreamers who still wanted to hear the song that unites the world.
In 2020, that song seems more important and poignant than ever.
The first thing that is so important to me about this movie, is that it doesn’t change our characters. They haven’t become these darker, disillusioned versions of themselves, they are still the same lovable dimwits we know from the first two movies. They didn’t try to make out like it was a bad thing that these characters were still fighting for their dreams. It kept the tone that had been so relatable for me when I was first introduced to this world. It evokes an optimism that is so rarely done with purity these days that wasn’t just refreshing, it was necessary.
The ‘princess babes’ from the first movie are now Bill and Ted’s wives. It’s worth watching this movie for the couples therapy scene alone. The daughters are ‘most excellent’ in this movie, this was an aspect I was unsure of. I never know whether having female leads in well-known male-oriented roles, is just a way to pander to the female audience. (i.e. Thor, Doctor Who)
Bill and Ted 3 doesn’t do this, in fact, it puts a very interesting spin on equality. The movie runs with two female leads essentially experiencing their story in parallel with the two male leads. It creates a balance rather than a battle. Yin and Yang. While Bill and Ted desperately travel to future versions of themselves, trying to find the song that unites the world; their daughters Billie and Thea travel backwards in time to find historical musical legends to help their dads write the song.
We are introduced to future versions of Bill & Ted in silly but wonderful scenes.
“The best time to be is now, and all’s we can say is…Let’s rock!” – Bill & Ted
There is no cynicism in this movie, it tells the story through the wacky adventures we come to expect. The creators don’t treat the main characters as stupid or unintelligent, Bill and Ted are celebrated as they are. We can lean into the optimism they present us with because we don’t get an outlet to be pessimistic. The characters are so endearing that you just know they’re going to find a way to come through.
It’s the ending that makes it. It’s heart wrenching yet optimistic.
“It wasn’t so much the song that made the difference. It was everyone playing it together.”
This was the moment my heart broke and tears streamed down my face. The world playing one song in harmony saved the universe. To have that message presented to me, when gigs are impossible and gathering is discouraged, was absolutely jarring. Any musician, artist, music lover, should watch this movie. “Bill and Ted Face the Music” may seem on the surface like this silly adventure that was created as a love letter to the fans. It’s so much more than that. I believe this movie will have the same cult following as the ones that led to its inception.
Some will argue that the sequel to Bill and Ted lacked the same wackiness of the first. To an extent, I’d agree, but the one part I miss in the third instalment is definitely Station. We’re surrounded by craziness and lunacy this year. I for one am grateful that this craziness is coated in sugar.
If you let it, I believe “Bill & Ted Face the Music” can reinvigorate the rapidly dwindling optimism inside all of us. Let it remind you to sing in harmony with the world around you.
Remind us to “Be Excellent To Each Other & Party On Dudes.”