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‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ a good-hearted blast

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“Bill & Ted Face the Music” isn’t quite on the same level as the original “Bill & Ted” flicks that come out 30 years ago. The plot is a little too overstuffed and messy. There are a few too many characters fighting for our attention and the whole affair feels a bit rushed.

But “Face the Music” is still a funny, hard-rocking good time of a movie. Best of all, the sweet, good-hearted nature of the original flicks still beats on, even all these years later.

“Face the Music” catches us up with Bill S. Preston, Esp. (Alex Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Keanu Reeves), now middle-aged dads whose rock stardom has dried up. Oh yeah, and they still haven’t written the song that unites the world yet, either. When an emissary from the future shows up something most heinous is about to befall all of reality, the titular dudes have to write the song that saves the universe. And quick.

Meanwhile, Bill and Ted’s daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving) embark on a mission through time to recruit a most excellent backing band for their dads. Throw in a deadly robot with serious emotional issues, appearances by much-loved characters from the original movies, a killer rock soundtrack and a few surprises and you’ve got your movie.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in the film is that there’s just so much going on in the plot. In addition to the main storylines, Bill and Ted have to find a way to save their marriages. There’s all the stuff with the plotting and scheming of the Great Leader (Holland Taylor). There’s Dennis Caleb McCoy (Anthony Carrigan), the emotionally compromised robot. There’s even more than this. And that’s a lot to jam into a movie that doesn’t even run 90 minutes long.

As a result, some scenes and plot elements that should have been given a little more time to blossom get rushed through. Some characters, especially Death (William Sadler), get far less screen time than they deserve. The whole movie feels like it’s in too much of a hurry to get where it’s going.

Also, some of the acting isn’t up to snuff. Weaving is a little underwhelming as Thea and gets blown off the screen by Lundy-Paine’s Billie. Kristen Schaal is usually reliable but feels sorely miscast in her role as Kelly, the messenger from the future who sends Bill and Ted on their way.

While there are some definite flaws, “Face the Music” gets most of what it needs to do really, really right. Winter and Reeves are effortless as Bill and Ted, capturing the same dudes we know from so long ago but adding some weariness that comes with age.

Other characters from the past movies work, too. It’s good to see characters like Chief Logan (Hal Landon, Jr.), Missy (Amy Stotch), and, of course, Death. There are quite a few clever call-backs to “Excellent Adventure” and “Bogus Journey,” including a tribute to Rufus (George Carlin) that left me a bit misty-eyed.

Best of all, this movie’s heart is in the right place. The humor is never mean-spirited or cruel. It feels like a project that was done because the main players involved really wanted to tell another Bill & Ted story. It never for one second feels like a cynical cash grab. This is a movie you can watch with your family and everyone will have a good time.

“Bill & Ted Face the Music” may not quite be on the same level as the original “Bill & Ted” movies, but it carries enough of the heart and spirit from those films to satisfy long-time fans and is funny enough and rocks hard enough to make some new ones. It may not unite humanity but it will put a big smile on your face. For 2020, I’d say that’s more than good enough.

3 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Thanks to Fat Cats in Rexburg for providing screenings for movie reviews on EastIdahoNews.com.

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