A hearty laugh is needed during times like these. And what better way to get one than to see the lovable idiots, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Theodore Logan, return from a 29-year hiatus in their third movie installment, Bill & Ted Face the Music? Well apparently there must be other ways because, unfortunately, the buffoons don’t exactly deliver the goods.
In it, we pick up with the now 40 or 50-something dopey duo, Bill (Alex Winter, “Grand Piano”) and Ted (Keanu Reeves, “John Wick: Chapter 2”), struggling to write the song that unites the world (although their latest attempt, “That Which Binds Us Through Time: The Chemical, Physical And Biological Nature Of Love; An Exploration Of The Meaning Of Meaning, Part 1,” should have been a winner), fully connect with their princess wives (Jayma Mays, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” and Erinn Hayes, “They Came Together”), and, as best I can tell, raise their teenage daughters Thea (Samara Weaving, “Ready or Not”) and Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine, “Bombshell”) in any meaningful way.
But, as the screenplay of Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon’s would have it, the pair get a chance to fix some of that when the daughter of the late Rufus (George Carlin), Kelly (Kristen Schaal, “Literally, Right Before Aaron”), shows up from the future with some most harrowing of news. Not only does the song the men write unite the peoples of the world, but it will also stop reality as we all know it from tearing itself apart. Oh, and they have just 75 minutes to produce said song. No pressure. So the boys, in their infinite wisdom, choose to head off into the future to lift the song from their future selves because it’s always easier to steal something than earn it. Their daughters borrow a time machine to travel back in time to hunt for a few of the best musicians to help with the music they expect their fathers to make. And in a story thread left to languish, Bill and Ted’s wives head off to find a version of their husbands they can be fulfilled by. Upping the stakes a bit, chasing our dimwits is a robot (Anthony Carrigan, “Barry” TV series) sent to kill them because The Great Leader (Holland Taylor, “Two and a Half Men” TV series) of the future thinks that maybe the prophecy of Wyld Stallyns is really all hogwash even though you’d think she would know it wasn’t because of her ability to travel through time to verify it.
Anyways, making sense is not a strong suit to the trilogy, so off the boys and girls go though time to complete their endeavors with less laughs and more cringe.
The adolescent men do garner a smirk or two when they run into different versions of themselves in different years in the future, with the better being as a pair of rock star wannabes sporting English accents or as massively juiced-up prisoners. That’s about it though. The highly anticipated reconnection with Death (William Sadler, “Frank the Bastard”) — which played so well in “Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey” — has none of the deadpan humor or oddball chemistry previously explored. Depressing best describes it. Same with Bill and Ted’s continual run in with the killer robot named Dennis Caleb McCoy. I got the impression this was a replacement character for the Grim Reaper (both are bone white, at a crossroads to do what they’re expected to do, corrupted by the imbecility of the people they are meant to destroy, etc.), but he just didn’t work for me. Mostly through their adventure it seems Winter and Reeves just go through the motions in arthritic fashion, knowing deep down inside this premise is a day late and a dollar short.
The daughters — who are just as much leads to the movie as Bill and Ted — are also off-mark. Both exhibit the exact same personality traits as their fathers, which lends to the idea that their mothers had no role whatsoever in how they were raised. It’s all very strange to watch unfold, although I will say both Weaving and Lundy-Paine do great impressions of Bill and Ted. They also bring some very much needed youth to the proceedings. The adventure they tackle is reminiscent to the one Bill and Ted take in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” though there is no silliness in the efforts to recruit, among others, Louis Armstrong (Jeremiah Craft, “Luke Cage” TV series), Jimi Hendrix (DazMann Still, “Manifest” TV series) and Mozart (Daniel Dorr, “Fury”). As a matter of fact, nearly everything in Bill & Ted Face the Music is more serious in tone than the farcical nature of the movie would lend it to be.
Ultimately, Bill & Ted Face the Music suffers the same fate as “Dumb and Dumber To” did. Too many years have passed between installments and, as good as it is to initially see some of the dopiest characters back on screen, the extended time away highlights the novelty is all but gone. For me, that realization is totally bogus.