Bill & Ted face the music feels a bit like a crazy. Franchise movies are king now, and because of this, any revival feels cynical by default. Bill & Ted’s excellent adventure and its successor, Bill & Teds Bogus Journey, is perhaps among the least cynical films ever made: sincere balls through time and the afterlife with the cute idiots who love rock n ‘roll. They lack any kind of edge or hint of darkness (even when they go to hell) and welcome their lack of sophistication. There’s not much there, but that’s what makes them charming. This makes the idea of a third film, released over 30 years after the first, feel like a stretch. Still, it may be my favorite movie released this year.
I saw Bill & Ted face the music at a drive-in theater. It was something my partner and I had always wanted to do (drive-ins, no Bill & Ted) but lacked the opportunity. In a pandemic, though, drive-ins are among the only safe ways to watch movies outside of your home, so we borrowed a car and drove to see the only new movie playing at the drive-in that night. None of us had particularly strong feelings about the film ̵
Bill & Ted face the musicis like its predecessors a simple film. Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter), have been told since they were teenagers that their rock band, Wyld Stallyns, will write the song that will unite the world. However, they are now middle-aged men who somehow have not managed to pull it off. Because of this, the world is collapsing. Time and space collapse, and Kelly (Kristen Schaal), an envoy from the future, arrives to tell Stallyns that they have until 6 p.m. 19:17 to write the song, otherwise everything will come to an end.
To solve the problem with minimal effort, Bill and Ted decide to try what worked in the past: using a time machine to jump to a future where they have already written the song, and bring it back to the present. This goes wrong, and the duo spends the rest of the film trying to smooth out the increasingly serious mistakes they make in the future as they continue to neglect the present.
We never think as clearly about the present as we would like. I suppose it’s even more true now than it ever was. What, I wonder, will the reflection reveal about this year and how we received it? I saw Bill & Ted face the music in an external New Jersey driveway because drive-ins are among the few diversions available to me when the world falls apart. That collapse is never far from my mind, least of all during the 91-minute film about two middle-aged men staring down at the end of the world and trying to avoid doing anything about it.
Throughout Watch the music, Bill and Ted travel further and further into their future to find that they never change. Their lives just get worse because they never stop running from their problems, from trying to cheat themselves out of doing the work to fix something. Their future selves can not improves until Bill and Ted stop searching for them, because then it means they have stopped cheating their way into the song that saves the universe, and have actually started doing so.
In the last year, I had been planning to get married this month. It happens, like many other things in 2020, no longer, postponed for a year. I do not know if it’s time enough. I doubt it’s enough time. However, worrying about it feels nonsense. So I do not. Instead, I look at all the other things that are being angry about right now, and I feel that instead.
I do not know where to put all that anger. I can send it to the future, which looks worse the further into it I reach. I can send it to the past and despair over every step that brought us here. Both seem like terrible decisions for the person living here, now.
So at the end of Bill & Ted face the music, I cried, for the present is the only thing I have not found out yet, six months into misfortune. I do not know if the decisions I make today are the right ones or the wrong ones, and I am running out of fictions to spin myself to justify living and working and paying bills, as if the world is not literally is on fire. I cried because the wedding we thought we would probably never happen because no one gets the morning they were hoping for. And I cried, because at the end of the movie everyone do get up and watch the music. Not because they have found out anything, but because they love hell out of each other. That’s all they really know how to do – be great at each other and play music really fucking loud. It’s almost all about what I should do too.