Oh, I loved William S Preston Esq and Theodore Logan back in the day. Waaayyy back in the day when I was in my twenties. You can’t beat a bit of Bill and Ted to lift your mood, to make you forget you’re in your 60s (as Bill and Ted themselves so very nearly are.) Can the bouncy, dudelicious Reeves and Winter now be middle-aged? Say it isn’t so. But it evidently is mis amigos. Yes dudes, we’ve time travelled at the rate old B&T did many movie moons ago. As a lengthy aside here, I’m convinced Bill and Ted are really Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the Tom Stoppard play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, written yonks ago in the 60s. I saw this play on a school trip, when I was about 13, and thought it the best thing I’d ever seen in my life (not difficult when you’re just 13.) Roundabout the same time, I’d become obsessed with the writings/films of Woody Allen. Clearly, clever-clogs comedy was where my young head was at. In case you’re wondering (or not, should you not be of a major literary bent) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were two very minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet (whoa, legit literary greatness dude!) Stoppard’s play focused on R&G as they wandered about on the edges of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, clueless about what was going on. Rather like our lovable chumps Bill and Ted.
Keanu sports his long Tedilicious locks for B&T 3 and, in so doing, is a walking advert that middle-aged blokes should never sport long, heavily dyed hair (even if they are Keanu Reeves.) Alex Winter fares better, sporting the same short curly hair he had in the original B&Ts. In fact, Alex Winter fares better in every way possible in this, the Dudes third incarnation.
For Alex Winter can act. I haven’t seen Winter in anything other than the Bill and Teds, so his acting skills came as a complete surprise, being I was too busy eyeballing Keanu back in the 80s. Such a shame Winter’s later career never reached the Hollywood heights as Keanu’s did. But – and I’ll whisper this. Could it be that Winter lacked something in the looks’ department, that Reeves had in spades? Is Hollywood more interested in looks than thespian talent? Well, that’s just bogus dude.
Keanu has oft been critiqued for his ‘wooden’ acting style, and this is on fine display in Bill and Ted Face the Music (but perhaps not so finely tuned as in The Matrix.) I jest, for I love Keanu, just so amiable and nice is he, with the kind of star quality film fans go for. Keanu’s attempt at a British accent in B&T 3 is, however, pretty heinous my friend, whereas Winter’s Brit parody is a most triumphant triumph. (Retrospective note to my so much younger self: recognise talent when you see it and not just the one with the pretty face.)
However, I’m putting to one side the fact that Winter outshines Reeves in their latest (and last?) outing. Instead, I’m wallowing in the happiness, the buffoonery, the sweetness and light and full-on joyous optimism that flows from Bill and Ted 3. The plot is madness, involving Quantum Mechanics (which none of the characters understands, and do the physicists I ask myself?) and B&T’s daughters (female replicas of their dads) who travel back in time to form the band that will play the song that saves reality. Those band members are: Mozart (keyboards), Jimi Hendrix (guitar), Louis Armstrong (trumpet); Ling Lun (flute and legendary founder of music in China); Grom (drums) a cavewoman from 11500 BCE and Death (bass guitar.) Pretty bodacious don’t you think? And a nice nod to the first Bill and Ted. And, what’s more, there’s a brilliant duet featuring Mozart and Hendrix on harpsichord and guitar played by an equally brilliant multi-instrumentalist called Ray Suen, standing in for the actors (major kudos musical dude! – I’m playing air guitar here at my laptop.)
The middle-aged B&T are accosted by the Great Leader and given just a few hours to write the song that will stop Reality tearing apart. Knowing this isn’t doable, our hapless heroes travel to the future via their old, time travelling phone box (was this idea originally nicked from Dr Who?) hoping to find their future selves who (also hopefully) wrote the momentous Reality-saving song and thus will give it to them. Their various future selves are a major disappointment but the time travelling ends with the ancient B&T lying in care home beds, side by side, and is quite tear jerking when you’re of a certain age – as I and the B&T writers now are.
Oh, I forgot. There’s also a killer robot – the endearing Dennis, who actually only wants to rock, to dance and basically be (like Pinocchio) human. The actor Anthony Carrigan (previously unknown to me) playing Dennis is here brilliant (as brilliant as you can be in a robot suit and a mask that completely covers your face.) The robot’s dance btw is a lovely little highlight and, for the believers, we get Jesus playing percussion at the Last Supper. This is Bill and Ted for the older, the wiser and the oh so sentimental. Why, these days I weep at the drop of a hat.
Anyways. B&T never write the song, but the epic time travelling band their daughters put together play a nice enough tune (on top of a truck whilst Space and Time falls apart) accompanied by the entire global population (past and present) each with an instrument supplied by Bill and Ted who, by the magic of Quantum Mechanics, manage to be in millions of places at the same time. And the true magic happens when our middle-aged heroes finally strike up their electric guitars, with the rest of the global band, and Quantum space/time/reality knits itself together.
So, it wasn’t the song dude; it was the global harmony. Being excellent to each other might just be all it takes.