Bill and Ted of Excellent Adventure fame captured an era and an age in movies paying homage to the teenage slackerdom that defined a generation, which is why its somewhat jarring to see the franchise get a sequel some 30 years later but also so illuminating.
Despite what many fans might think, they're not stoner dudes in disguise. Nor are they full-on Valley or surfer-boy types.
Bill and Ted Face the Music, out Friday, does just as its title promises, exploring the life of characters that seemed too of-their-time to make a modern day resurgence but are actually all the more compelling for fully embracing their older selves as witnesses to what life, and history, gives us as it continues to unfold, ready for it or not.
In the third installment, Bill and Ted are no longer the happy-go-lucky kids they once were. (That role is reserved for their peppy daughters.) Indeed, the far-fetched time-travel plots of the films only reinforce the realities of true life.
The metalheads have grown up adrift in a world where their music hasn't been embraced despite the prophecy in earlier movies that it would be. Since there are plenty of real-life Gen Xers with bands or other pursuits that never made it and are still trying to figure out what to do, the goofiness of Bill and Ted speaks to the way in which many of the people who grew up watching them have themselves refused to grow up. The movies sense of instability is easy to relate to particularly as middle-age people today have found even stable professions shaken by the economic roller coaster of the last 20 years, culminating in the pandemic crisis.
Get the think newsletter.
But theres a flip side to the midlife malaise and joint couples therapy that Bill and Ted are stuck in, which also reveals a hidden truth for much of Gen X: They dont get the credit they deserve. Bill and Ted are slacker dudes hovering around 50 who have managed, despite their own cluelessness, to embark on successful time travel adventures and even cheat Death himself before he became one of their band members.
True, they generally succeed in life through dumb luck and a serendipitous confluence of events, but they're smarter than theyre perceived to be and often surprise us. Despite what many fans might think, they're not stoner dudes in disguise. Nor are they full-on Valley or surfer-boy types. Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson confirmed this long ago, and Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves said they landed the roles because they didn't play them as stoners or airheads.
They're actually really sweet guys who are nice to everyone they encounter no matter how tweaked or crazy they are. (Except their evil alternate selves, whom they battle in the second film.) They are endearing characters because they are not malicious or angry. (OK, they get a bit testy in this one, but theyre 30 years older, dude.) Their amiability is a big reason why many fans will likely indulge in this sequel. And their approach to life could be what we need right now.
The major directive of the new installment, after all, is that Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Winter) and Ted Theodore Logan (Reeves) are the leaders of the band Wyld Stallyns, which includes their wives, Joanna and Elizabeth (Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes), and have it in their hands to craft the epic song that brings about world peace and creates universal harmony. That was and is a very 80s notion. We could use some of that high-minded optimism in these dark times.
A quick recap on how they got to this point. In Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), an emissary from the future, Rufus (portrayed by the late George Carlin), taught the two SoCal buddies how to travel through time so that they could collect personages of historical significance to ace their high school history report, graduate and move on to their loftier musical goals.
In Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), maniacal, mechanical clones from the future come to kill them and undo the predicted future success of their band. But with the help of Death (William Sadler) and a brilliant, heavenly alien named Station, they strike back at their alter egos. (With clever cinematic tributes to auteurs ranging from Ingmar Bergman to Tim Burton, Bogus is superior.)
In Face the Music, Rufus' daughter Kelly (Kristen Schaal) comes from the future to warn them that they have only 77 minutes to finally write that epic song that will unite everyone and everything, or the fabric of space and time as we know it will come undone. Most unfortunate.
To save everything in time, Bill and Ted flash forward into different points in the future to find where their future selves wrote the great song of universal harmony, if they can. (Time travel uses up real time minutes, so the race is on.) This time, their music-scholar daughters Theodora "Thea" Preston (Samara Weaving) and Wilhelmina "Billie" Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine) journey separately back through the aeons to assemble the ultimate band including everyone from a Stone Age drummer to Jimi Hendrix for their most honorable dads.
Despite a slow-going first act, the movie and humor pick up once the time-travel segments kick in. (Post-credits tip: Stick around.) The cameo by grunge rocker Dave Grohl is fun, and who knew rapper Kid Cudi was so well versed in quantum physics? Further, modern digital effects show the future, the disrupted present and Hell in most outstanding fashion.
Underneath the silliness of it all, the Bill and Ted movies have always had a positive message about uniting people through the power of music.
Underneath the silliness of it all, the Bill and Ted movies have always had a positive message about uniting people through the power of music. It's been said that the films have a deluded sense of optimism, but at a time when Mike Judges prescient sci-fi comedy Idiocracy from 2006 in which our future country has literally become governed by idiots has become tragically realistic, we could use a dose of bodacious and nonheinous fun to help us lighten up a bit before things really do get cray-cray in the real world in 2020.
Face the Music isn't a classic for the ages, but it has its funny moments. Bill and Ted have never been about providing all the answers anyway. They're just here to show us the way, dudes.
Bryan Reesman is a New York-based reporter, author of the book Bon Jovi: The Story and host of the podcast Side Jams.
- New quantum technology projects to solve mysteries of the universe - Open Access Government - January 14th, 2021
- Exploring the unanswered questions of our universe with quantum technologies - University of Birmingham - January 14th, 2021
- Wormholes may be lurking in the universe and new studies are proposing ways of finding them - The Conversation UK - January 14th, 2021
- University of Sheffield to lead multi-million pound project which could open up a new frontier in physics - University of Sheffield News - January 14th, 2021
- Raytheon UK part of team transforming the Royal Navy's technology, training and learning solutions - PRNewswire - January 14th, 2021
- Optical selection and sorting of nanoparticles according to quantum mechanical properties - Science Advances - January 14th, 2021
- The unhackable computers that could revolutionize the future - CNN - January 8th, 2021
- Birds Have a Mysterious 'Quantum Sense'. For The First Time, Scientists Saw It in Action - ScienceAlert - January 8th, 2021
- How understanding light has led to a hundred years of bright ideas - The Economist - January 8th, 2021
- Tokyo Institute of Technology: Quantum Mysteries: Probing an Unusual State in the Superconductor-Insulator Transition - India Education Diary - January 8th, 2021
- Quantum Nanodevice Can Be Both a Heat Engine and Refrigerator at the Same Time - SciTechDaily - January 8th, 2021
- Illumination at the limits of knowledge - The Economist - January 8th, 2021
- The top 20 most random things that happened in 2020: Nos. 16-20 - 104.3 The Fan - January 6th, 2021
- Detective Work in Theoretical Physics: Comprehensive Review of Physics of Interacting Particles - SciTechDaily - January 6th, 2021
- New Quantum-Based Distance Measurement Method for GPS and LIDAR - AZoQuantum - January 6th, 2021
- Raytheon Technologies Appoints Marie R. Sylla-Dixon as Chief Diversity Officer to Further Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives -... - January 6th, 2021
- Quantum Superposition Evidenced by Measuring Interaction of Light with Vibration - AZoQuantum - December 24th, 2020
- Superpositions The Cosmic Weirdness of Quantum Mechanics - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel - December 24th, 2020
- Here's Why Quantum Computing Will Not Break Cryptocurrencies - Forbes - December 24th, 2020
- Irish researchers reveal how Santa delivers toys to billions in one night - BreakingNews.ie - December 24th, 2020
- Eight ways Argonne advanced science in 2020 - Newswise - December 24th, 2020
- Scaling the heights of quantum computing to deliver real results - Chinadaily.com.cn - China Daily - December 24th, 2020
- MIT's quantum entangled atomic clock could still be ticking after billions of years - SYFY WIRE - December 24th, 2020
- Matter Deconstructed: The Observer Effect and Photography - PetaPixel - December 24th, 2020
- Everything you need to know about quantum physics (almost ... - December 21st, 2020
- Quantum mechanics - Wikipedia - December 21st, 2020
- Six Things Everyone Should Know About Quantum Physics - December 21st, 2020
- Counter-Intuitive Quantum Mechanics: State of Vibration That Exists Simultaneously at Two Different Times - SciTechDaily - December 21st, 2020
- A state of vibration that exists simultaneously at two different times - Tech Explorist - December 21st, 2020
- This Incredible Particle Only Arises in Two Dimensions - Popular Mechanics - December 21st, 2020
- Quantum Mechanics, the Mind-Body Problem and Negative Theology - Scientific American - December 17th, 2020
- Quantum Interference Phenomenon Identified That Occurs Through Time - SciTechDaily - December 17th, 2020
- 9 Most Confusing Sci-Fi Movies That Feel Like You Need a PhD in Quantum Physics - FandomWire - December 17th, 2020
- Expanding the Scope of Electronic-Structure Theory - Physics - December 17th, 2020
- Physicists attempt to unify all forces of nature and rectify Einstein's biggest failure - Livescience.com - December 17th, 2020
- Black dwarf supernovae: The last explosions in the Universe - SYFY WIRE - December 17th, 2020
- Orford 17-year-old is among brightest young minds in north west - Warrington Guardian - December 17th, 2020
- Meet the kaon - Symmetry magazine - November 10th, 2020
- There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness by Carlo Rovelli review - The Guardian - November 10th, 2020
- Digging into the 3D Quantum Hall Effect - Physics - November 10th, 2020
- Physicists Circumvent 178-Year Old Theory to Cancel Magnetic Fields - SciTechDaily - November 10th, 2020
- A Modem With a Tiny Mirror Cabinet Could Help Connect The Quantum Internet - ScienceAlert - November 8th, 2020
- Quantum Technology: Harnessing the Power of Quantum Mechanics - Analytics Insight - November 8th, 2020
- Will the Universe Remember Us after We're Gone? - Scientific American - November 8th, 2020
- Threat of Quantum Computing to Bitcoin Should be Taken Seriously, But theres Enough Time to Upgrade Current Security Systems, Experts Claim -... - November 8th, 2020
- Pablo Jarillo-Herrero receives the Lise Meitner Distinguished Lecture and Medal - MIT News - November 8th, 2020
- Lighting up the ion trap - MIT News - November 8th, 2020
- For Thomas Searles, a passion for people and science at HBCUs and MIT - MIT News - November 8th, 2020
- University of Kansas Team Explore Heavy-Ion Particle Physics - Pagosa Daily Post - November 8th, 2020
- Reimagining the laser: new ideas from quantum theory could herald a revolution - The Conversation AU - October 29th, 2020
- Deep Reality: Art, Physics, the Unseeable and Space-Time - UNM Newsroom - October 29th, 2020
- Physicist breaks down the science of 11 iconic DC movie scenes - Insider - INSIDER - October 29th, 2020
- Q&A: Stanford MacArthur fellows talk creativity and 'publish or perish' - The Stanford Daily - October 29th, 2020
- Prime Minister's Prize for Science awarded to gravitational wave scientists - ABC News - October 29th, 2020
- Is math really the language of nature? This physicist is on a quest to find out. - News@Northeastern - October 29th, 2020
- Life and Work: Teaching in the Time of COVID: A Tale of Three Universities - All Together - Society of Women Engineers - October 29th, 2020
- COMMENTARY Covid seen to worsen poverty - The BVI Beacon - BVI Beacon - October 29th, 2020
- Quantum Time Twist Offers a Way to Create Schrdinger's Clock - Scientific American - October 24th, 2020
- Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light - Quanta Magazine - October 24th, 2020
- A New Timekeeping Theory Reconciles Einstein's Relativity and Quantum Clocks - Science Times - October 24th, 2020
- Could Schrdingers cat exist in real life? We propose an experiment to find out - Scroll.in - October 24th, 2020
- Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Physics job with THE UNIVERSITY OF HONG KONG | 230760 - Times Higher Education (THE) - October 24th, 2020
- Province gives $11.8M to U of C for quantum research, other projects - Calgary Herald - October 24th, 2020
- Physicists clock the fastest possible speed of sound - Live Science - October 24th, 2020
- Column: A new era of electric vehicles could be on the way - Gainesville Times - October 24th, 2020
- Beyond Homo Sapiens A Slightly Different Roll of the Darwinian Dice (Weekend Feature) - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries Channel - October 24th, 2020
- Diamonds Are a Quantum Scientist's Best Friend: Discovery May Revolutionize the High-Tech Industry - SciTechDaily - October 24th, 2020
- The many paths of muon math | symmetry magazine - Symmetry magazine - October 24th, 2020
- Sumit Das to Deliver 2019-20 A&S Distinguished Professor Lecture on 'Deconstructing Space-Time' - UKNow - October 24th, 2020
- Of Science, Philosophy and Revelation - Greater Kashmir - October 24th, 2020
- In Waterloo they're looking for nature's deepest and weirdest secrets - National Observer - October 24th, 2020
- Max Planck and the Birth of Quantum Mechanics - SciTechDaily - October 15th, 2020
- Reality Does Not Depend on the Measurer According to New Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics - SciTechDaily - October 15th, 2020
- Bringing the promise of quantum computing to nuclear physics - MSUToday - October 15th, 2020
- Could Schrdinger's cat exist in real life? Our research may soon provide the answer - The Conversation AU - October 15th, 2020
- A Force From Nothing Used to Control and Manipulate Objects - SciTechDaily - October 15th, 2020
- Facebook and Carnegie Mellon launch project to discover better ways to store renewable energy - VentureBeat - October 15th, 2020
- The Week of October 12, 2020 - FYI: Science Policy News - October 15th, 2020
- Analyst: Holding Company Sentiment Has Gone From 'Cautiously Optimistic' To 'Apathetic,' IPG To Lead The Group 10/14/2020 - MediaPost Communications - October 15th, 2020
- Book review: 'The Book of Two Ways' | Features | telegraphherald.com - telegraphherald.com - September 27th, 2020