Nearly three decades after their last time trek, they’re on a mission to prove they’re dad bod-acious, but their bid for bogus bonafides exhumes a most triumphantly tepid detour. Dean Parisot’s Bill and Ted Face the Music (C) is best when it just gives in to absurdist metaphysical humor, and there are indeed a few brief flashes of the franchise’s blissfully harmless DNA scattered and smothered through a nonsensical screenplay. Most of the time, however, the story just goes through the motions with an overly sprawling ensemble of underdeveloped characters. A story lurks somewhere in this sequel about reconciling romances, discovering the music that pulses through generations and aligning a madcap world, but the plotting is listless and the episodic pacing maddening. The cheap effects that worked in the past two films now just seem like sloppy filmmaking. There’s a nice bit of sonic history with a rock ‘n’ roll supergroup involving the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong, but mostly the movie assembles lots of disparate elements – from charmless wives and daughters to an ill-tempered emo robot – and doesn’t know what to do with any of them. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are reasonably spry and great sports in multiple multiverse roles, but it all seems like it was more fun to make than to watch.
Fresh off their excellent adventure, the dimmest duo in time travel along with their respective robot doppelgängers return for more harmless fun in Pete Hewitt’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (B-). Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter reprise roles as vaguely stoner wannabe rock stars who must literally go through hell this time around to align time and space. The new conceit is far out, especially with an arty Ingmar Bergman homage of grim reaper sidekick Death played with droll abandon by William Sadler. Most of the jokes land, and it almost feels like there’s something at stake as the cheesy highjinks ensue. This series shouldn’t work but does.