Time for a review, 3.5 dudes.
I think it was Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t go home again and I think of that line whenever one of these movies come out to capitalize on the pop culture products of yesteryear.
Who is this movie for? I remember (sadly, almost like it was yesterday) being a little kid and thinking Bill and Ted were hilarious (still do). The plot of the original Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, if you recall, is that when they are about to flunk their history exam, the leaders of the future send Rufus (George Carlin) in a time traveling phone booth to pick the boys up and go on a tour of actual history, picking up actual historical figures to learn from (and to inadvertently trash a mall due to historical misunderstandings gone awry.)
I even remember the sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, where they die and go on an epic quest through heaven and hell, cheating and befriending Death along the way. Heck, I saw this one in the theater. Just like it was yesterday.
Soo….I don’t know. Is this movie for today’s kids? Maybe. Rock and Roll is long dead though. Sad because the first two were heavily rock based, such that they popularized the air guitar. The valley dude bro speak that Bill and Ted engage in is pretty much a thing of the past too. Well, maybe not in California but its seen way less in movies whereas it was all the rage in 1980s comedies.
It definitely isn’t for Keanu Reeves, though as I watched it, I decided he has a heart of gold. Bill and Ted launched his career and he has been skyrocketing ever since. Now in his middle age, he’s going stronger than strong, his John Wick movies a license to print money so he didn’t have to do this. I assume he only did it for love of Bill and Ted fans who gave him his start. Alex Winter didn’t go on to achieve Keanu status but I doubt he needed to do this either, so the real life Bill and Ted must think us 1980s/90s era dudes, now pretty long in the tooth ourselves, must still be pretty excellent to give us this dose of nostalgia.
So maybe it is for us fans who are getting up there. Nostalgia can be fun. For me these movies remind me of a happier time. Whether the past was better is always debatable and often we think of the past as being better, not necessarily because it was better for everyone but because it was better for us. We were young. The world was new. Time was on our side and all of life’s seemingly endless doors of possibility had yet to be slammed in our faces.
It makes me wish I had a time traveling phone booth of my own to go back and talk to me after seeing the old Bill and Ted movies and warn myself of all the proverbial rakes that the universe had hidden in the grass for me – where to find them and how to avoid stepping on them.
If you want to see this one, you might want to see the others first. You’ll get the gist if you haven’t, though there are references to the others that brought up vague recollections for me.
The plot is that Bill and Ted have spent the past few decades trying to achieve the destiny they were promised in the earlier films, namely that they would one day write and perform a song so awesome that it unites the world in peace and harmony. In truth, that song is needed more than ever today, but alas, the dudes have not been able to make it happen. Their band, Wyld Stallions, have gone from early success all the way down to the 99 cent bin, leaving them to perform at community center taco nights, the stress of it all draining their marriages to the British princess babes they dragged out of the past.
Don’t get me wrong. The film has its moments. I found one scene where Bill and Ted and their wives/princess babes go to couples’ counseling to be pretty funny. Meanwhile, Bill and Ted’s daughters, basically carbon copy parodies of their younger selves, are a hoot and they do a lot of the film’s heavy lifting.
Long story short, reality is about to collapse and B and T have a new deadline to write that epic song. While middle aged Bill and Ted go on a quest to the future to shake down various old versions of themselves in search of the song, their daughters go back in time looking for the great musicians of the past, seeking their help in producing it.
All in all, I enjoyed it. I do think Bill and Ted are products of the late 80s, early 90s when Rock and Roll was still loved and appreciated. Bill and Ted are able to solve most problems with a trip through time, though in reality, if you’re like me, you’ve realized that once mistakes are made and certain paths are traveled down, they can’t be undone, as much as you might long for a magic phone booth to use to go back and warn your past self of future problems and how to fix them.
Bonus points for a brief, tasteful tribute to the late George Carlin.