Director: Dean Parisot
*Mild Spoilers ahead*
Anyone who rejoices in youth, optimism and companionship will feel a warm glow when they remember the triumphant final scene of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, in which the two teenage Californian slackers, with the aid of persons of historical significance gathered from all ages, triumph in their history report and and are hence able to stay together so that Wyld Stallyns can create the music which will unite mankind. It’s one of the most joyous scenes in film, guaranteed to leave the hardest bitten cynic with a wide grin. The second film, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, in which robot doppelgängers are sent to thwart their future, had its moments but lacked the first film’s charm, as well as its uplifting final scene.
Now Bill and Ted are back, as middle aged losers, still married to the medieval princesses from the first film and with a daughter apiece. Bill S Preston’s daughter is called Theodora, and Ted Theodore Logan’s daughter is called Billie. Age has not been kind to Wyld Stallyns. They start the film playing the latest wedding of Missie, Bill’s step mother in the first film, Ted’s in the second, and now marrying Ted’s brother Deacon (which as Ted points out in his wedding speech makes his father his own son). It’s the biggest gig they will play all year, because after their first hit Wyld Stallyns couldn’t get arrested, not even by Ted’s police chief dad. Their destiny to unite mankind is manifest, but looks a long way off. Until Kelly, the daughter of Rufus from Excellent Adventure, arrives to explain that the song has to be written and performed later that same afternoon because the fabric of time is falling apart.
Bill and Ted are also struggling in their marriages, the key word being ‘their’, plural. When they go to couples counselling their wives and the counsellor are all taken aback to discover that Bill and Ted assumed that the couple being counselled was them. The real theme of the first film was Bill and Ted’s devotion to each other and terror of being separated. I have long held a theory that the trip to medieval England, where uniquely they collect no persons to contribute to their history report, was added to the plot to introduce the princesses in case viewers inferred a romantic relationship between the leads.
With time short, despite the luxury of time machines, Bill and Ted travel into the future, reasoning that one of their future selves must already have written the song which they must have performed for the future from which Kelly comes to exist. Meanwhile Thea and Billie journey into the past to gather musicians to make up the band. The wives go time travelling too, though to less effect (I couldn’t help thinking a running gag involving the counsellor would have been better than adding a third time travel plot), and Kelly’s mother has sent a robot assassin back in time because if Bill and Ted can not fulfil their future they must be destroyed to allow an alternative one. It’s not exactly Tenet but you do have to keep your eye on the ball.
My greatest fear was that this film would be a disaster which would besmirch the memory of Bill and Ted and I’m delighted to say it’s not that. It’s not exactly a triumph either, but it’s message of unity and cooperation is hard to resist. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as Bill and Ted deserve praise for not romanticising their old roles and depicting them as good natured losers who’s greatest achievement is their daughters. If you loved the first two films you can go to see this one without fear of disappointment, and if you missed the first two you should watch those first. Either way you can leave your cynicism at the cinema door and surrender to a hugely enjoyable 90 minutes in a world where everything is going to turn out all right in the end.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
The first two films, good natured goofiness