Writing Tips and Film Critique

How Face the Music Misses the Point

WARNING: Spoilers ahead for Bill & Ted Face the Music. Keep reading at your own risk.

…unless you simply don’t care, then go ahead and keep reading and feeling good about it.

Anyway, I just finished watching a movie I was looking forward to seeing from the moment I took in the first trailer: Bill & Ted Face the Music. I grew up watching the first movie, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure pretty often, and I was a bit disappointed with the second movie, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, so I was completely excited for the new film, Face the Music. I never thought, though, that I’d find myself shaking my head and saying, “This is all wrong,” while watching the new entry in the series.

While watching a sequel, I sometimes wonder if the writers ever bothered to watch the previous movies, you know, to remain consistent with them. Unfortunately, such is the case with Face the Music.

To start with, the idea behind the new film is that Bill and Ted, now much older and having failed as a band called Wyld Stallions, are brought to the future and pressured to write the one song that will bring humanity together and save not only the future, but all of time. To quote the leader of the council – a council that is completely different from the one shown in Excellent Adventure – to Bill and Ted, “You were supposed to unite the world in song. According to her father [meant as a reference to Rufus’ daughter], a song created by Preston/Logan, at a concert performed by everyone in the band, at 7:17pm…will save reality as we know it, uniting humanity across all time.”

Rufus’ daughter goes on to explain that without the song Bill and Ted are supposed to write, time and space will collapse. The movie even shows figures from history jumping out of their own times and into other times.

Now, anyone who has seen Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure knows that this is completely and utterly wrong. Going back to the end of that movie, Rufus explains to Bill and Ted, “Eventually, your music will help put an end to war and poverty. It will align the planets and bring them into universal harmony, allowing for meaningful contact with all forms of life, from extraterrestrial beings to common household pets.” So, if Bill and Ted failed their history report and were separated, the lack of their music wouldn’t be a certain doom to humanity and all time but rather a missing element that wouldn’t be what those in the future know is an avenue for the peaceful union of all life in the future.

Face the Music attempts to explain this dramatic difference by introducing the idea that Rufus’ words are open to interpretation. The movie even doubles down on this by having the council send a robot to kill Bill and Ted because some in the council believe that Rufus’ sort-of prophecy can be interpreted as saying that the deaths of Bill and Ted are what unite humanity, which is an example of the movie getting itself completely wrong since Rufus’ words aren’t open to such an interpretation at all, except with the vague “Preston/Logan” reference that could imply that Bill and Ted are not the “Preston/Logan” who write the one song. Even in that case though, there’s no implication that the deaths of Bill and Ted are needed for another “Preston/Logan” to write the song.

Also, yes, the writers purposely made “Preston/Logan” vague because they wanted to pull a switch on everyone and make it so that Bill and Ted’s daughters, Thea and Billie, respectively, are the ones who write the song that saves all of time, not Bill and Ted.

Let’s put aside the glaring flaw this creates in that we now have the council from the future not knowing that it was Bill and Ted’s daughters who wrote the song, which is knowledge they should have since we know Bill and Ted wouldn’t take credit for writing the song. The movie even shows the duo not wanting to take credit for someone else’s work that is passed along to them as original. So, given that Bill and Ted would make sure that everyone knew Thea and Billie are the ones who wrote the song that saved all of time, it’s a huge error in the writing for the future council to be completely unaware of the song’s origin.

Let’s also put aside the fact that Bill and Ted each had a son, Little Bill and Little Ted (“Bill” and “Ted,” by the way, are clearly boy names, for anyone who wants to argue that gender pronouns weren’t used toward the babies), at the end of Bogus Journey, which is less of an accidental oversight and more of an example of the feminist agenda Hollywood studios are pushing at the moment. They’re willing to get an enormous detail wrong simply because they want women in the roles of Bill and Ted’s offspring rather than men.

But let’s not put aside that it was clearly stated in Excellent Adventure that Wyld Stallions’ music is what unites the universe, while in Face the Music, Wyld Stallions was a failed band and Bill and Ted eventually decide to play backup roles in Thea and Billie’s new band by the conclusion of the film (which is why Bill and Ted’s offspring had to be women, to push women as the heroes in the film, an example of how forcing an agenda into writing can totally ruin the writing by introducing incorrect elements for the sake of the agenda).

It’s also incorrect that one song is all it takes to save humanity, as Rufus says that it’s more than one song when he refers to Bill and Ted’s collective music as the catalyst for universal harmony. And of course, Face the Music is way off in its depiction of history needing to be saved as well as the future. In Excellent Adventure, it’s not history that’s in trouble if Bill and Ted are separated from each other; it’s solely the future that’s in danger.

However, even with all those things the movie gets wrong, the biggest point that Face the Music misses is that it isn’t one jam session of everyone across all time that brings people together. I mean, if that were true, then all of history would be changed as well since that jam session would’ve united everyone in all of time for all of time. No, the idea behind Excellent Adventure is that it takes time and inspiration and practice and effort and hard work to bring the world, and eventually the universe, together. This is why Rufus couldn’t help Bill and Ted with their history report. Rufus left them on their own because Bill and Ted had to learn to take responsibility for their own lives, their own choices. They had to be inspired to act on their own and put together a history report that would eventually educate the student body as Bill and Ted brought the historical figures on stage for their report, an event that inspired them to reflect on themselves and what they were doing with their time: Were they simply going to keep pretending to play music, or were they now going to learn how to play music and make the reality they envision for themselves?

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure wasn’t about two unlikely people who helped save the world; it was about how a single event in the lives of two unlikely people helped them to grow and mature to a point at which they could begin to help change the world for the better through the songs they write and play, not because they were supposed to do it or even meant to do it, but because it was what they wanted to do.

That’s what Face the Music really misses. In Face the Music, Bill and Ted seek out multiple versions of their future selves so they can be given the one song that will unite humanity across all of time, making it seem as if they’re unable to write music that anyone wants to hear, which is way off of what Rufus tells Bill and Ted in Excellent Adventure. Meanwhile, in Face the Music, Thea and Billie collect musical figures from throughout time to form a band for their fathers, a band that eventually becomes their band not because they intended to start a band but because the band is simply given to them as Bill and Ted shirk their responsibility as they hand that responsibility off to their children.

Thea and Billie could’ve been really good characters if there was an opportunity for them to grow and mature into the parts they play in the future of humanity, like Bill and Ted did across their excellent adventure. As it stands though, with Thea and Billie being nothing more than the female replacements for Bill and Ted – since they essentially copy what Bill and Ted did in the first movie – and with the pair lacking the character growth or inspiration that Bill and Ted were touched with in their first outing, Face the Music, for all involved, including the audience who has to sit through a badly-written movie, is more of a bogus journey than Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.

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