It’s been thirty years since our screens were first graced with Keanu Reeves’s goofy grin, Alex Winter’s inside-out crop top, and excited air-guitaring. But, even now, the world’s most wholesome franchise still proves to be exactly what we all need.
At the end of Bogus Journey, the Wyld Stallyns return from a time travel journey having learned to play guitar and with ‘little Bill and little Ted’ in tow. When we catch up with them in 2020, the Wyld Stallyns have had a long and intriguing career that has now slid into obscurity (according to Bill and Ted’s count, they have two fans and one has gone quiet recently), and little Bill and Ted are now the not-so-little Billie and Thea.
Countless arguments have been made online as to whether the daughters are ‘cringy’ and the worst part of the movie or not, but for their part they’re played with enthusiastic slacker aplomb, and with a little more wisdom than their fathers. Billie and Thea are full of excitement for their own journey (of gathering history’s best musicians to form a super band), and while it’s strange to see Bill and Ted refracted through a younger and more modern light, full of anachronisms from their fathers, they bring exactly the same uncynical glee as Reeves and Winter in the first film.
Keanu Reeves has made his name since with slick action movies, and it’s refreshing to see him back as the lovable doofus Ted. The first ten minutes of the film features him breaking out the theremin, the bagpipes, and the trumpet; it’s immediately clear that he hasn’t lost his talent for comedy. Age hasn’t dulled Ted’s golden retriever spirit; in fact, the hijinks are just as goofy as the previous two movies. The spirit of Bill and Ted is going nowhere.
New additions to the cast are Kristen Schaal as Kelly, daughter of the late George Carlin’s iconic character Rufus, and Anthony Carrigan, whose talent absolutely shines through as the emotionally insecure time-travelling robot Dennis Caleb McCoy. Carrigan steals almost every scene he is in with a delightfully awkward performance, and it’s a shame not to see more of him.
The only thing missing are, sadly, the historical hijinks. Jimi Hendrix riffing over Mozart in the 18th century doesn’t quite match the hilarity of Excellent Adventure’s Napoleon in an American mall. While Bill and Ted’s quest to write the song to unite all of space and time is hilarious, their daughters’ side quest doesn’t quite match. Their journey is earnest and motivated by their love for these musical figures, but misses any opportunity for comedy and letting the talent of its stars shine.
The film was not groundbreaking, nor did it elevate the franchise to new heights. It was a Bill and Ted movie, and it was exactly what it promised to be. But in a year stricken by absolute chaos, the wholesome and loving energy of Bill and Ted is the perfect antidote to the 2020 blues, and just the film we needed right now.
Image: BagoGames via Flickr