Life was good. It was 1991 and, having triumphed at The Battle Of The Bands at the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, our last vision of them – until now – was them stood on stage. Their beloved, percussionist “historical babes” Princess Joanna & Princess Elizabeth were by their sides, their beautiful new babies “Little Bill & Little Ted” were strapped to their backs and their old pal Death – aka “The Duke of Spook, The Doc of Shock, The Man with No Tan” – was rocking it on cello bass.
The world was at their feet. Wyld Stallyns, the band cosmically spotted by the cool-as-they-come Rufus (now watching proudly from backstage) as the one that would write the song that would save the universe, were galloping into their destiny. “Ladies and gentlemen,” they said, addressing their fans all across the planet, “we’ve been to the past. We’ve been to the future. We’ve been all around the afterlife. And you know? The best place to be is here. The best time to be is now. And all’s we can say is… Let’s rock!”
The only problem is, they haven’t. Now three decades after their first Excellent Adventure saw them anointed by the us-es of the future as the Two Great Ones, the now middle-aged Bill & Ted still haven’t written the song that would fulfill their destiny and ensure Mankind’s survival. They may not know it yet, but time is running out.
Still living in San Dimas, California, their babies now having grown up into the equally music-obsessed Billie & Thea (Ted’s & Bill’s daughters, respectively), Wyld Stallyns are a shadow of their old thems, crushed by the daily weight of expectation. Worse, Princess Joanna & Princess Elizabeth are at the end of their tether with their once-bodacious husbands’ endless pursuit of an impossible dream.
Oh, and Missy has now divorced Chief Logan and is marrying Deacon. Which technically means Ted’s Dad is now his own son. Just when things couldn’t look any worse, a glistening cylinder arrives out of the ether and a mysterious woman from the future emerges. “My father told me everything about you,” she says, before adding that Bill & Ted have just 77 minutes and 25 seconds left to write the song to save the universe, or our whole reality will collapse in on itself.
“If we don’t have the song by 7.17pm,” she says, “there is no 7.17pm.” The clock is ticking. Their phonebooth awaits. It’s time for Bill & Ted to Face The Music.
The Koaltion spoke to Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter about returning to Bill & Ted’s epic, emotional, decidedly non-heinous final chapter to life – and the fans who made it possible.
Bill & Ted Face The Music is a movie about the importance of unity, the power of friendship and what you can achieve when faced with insurmountable odds. Which is ironic because that’s exactly what the three-decade quest to get it made has been about, too.
It’s been nearly 30 years since we last saw Bill & Ted and they’ve gotten wiser with age. “I think we have, a little bit,” said Alex Winter.
“They’re not jaded, though. I just think they have a lot of life experience. They’ve got children, they’ve been in a relationship, they’ve been having the hard knocks of their lives, of trying to write this song [to unite the universe], but I don’t think they’re jaded,” explained Keanu Reeves.
“I think they’re a little bit weary, but that indomitable spirit is still in there, and that’s really what the course of this story is about. The writers’ whole concept for this thing was, ‘If you check back in with these guys 25-some-odd years later, where would they be, with that spirit that they have and their sort of joyfulness and innocence? What would they have become?’ But also, these aren’t cartoon characters, they’re human beings. So, what has that time done to them? Who are they now? And a lot of the comedy and the pathos lives in that core idea,” Alex Winter continued. “It took us a really long time to get this movie made. I kept thinking the whole time, with the concept that the writers came up with, at least the longer it takes, the funnier it’ll get! At least, that’s my opinion.”
“Exactly. By this stage, it can only be hilarious!,” Keanu Reeves agreed. “Throughout the course of making it, this one has consistently surprised me. It’s Bill & Ted, but it’s also new.”
It’s no secret that the journey to make Bill & Ted Face the Music a reality has been a long and winding one with many thinking it might never happen. Everyone went their separate ways. Reeves, of course, became Neo while Winter became a director of admired documentaries, such as 2015’s Deep Web and this year’s Showbiz Kids.
However, they both felt the need to come back to the series. Thematically, these characters needed to finish their story. In Face The Music, it isn’t rehashed storytelling or gags. Instead, the characters are grounded and evolve in their own reality. Alex and Keanu had changed a lot both; so the movie asks ‘what would these characters be like if they were approaching fifty and their lives hadn’t worked out?'”
In classic Bill & Ted style, this is very much a story about bringing people together and what the world needs right now. “I think this movie feels right beyond this time. I think we could use a bit of that unity all the time. Even in the so-called Halcyon Days of the 1630s. Hopefully people will respond to the story and enjoy the film. But I do think definitely that the spirit and the message of the picture is something that is universal and needed through all times,” said Keanu Reeves.
“It’s also in many ways a story about the pressure of expectation – Bill & Ted trying to deliver what the universe expects of them. We felt a responsibility for it to be good from the very inception, many years ago. Keanu and I, and Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, we really liked the idea that Chris and Ed had come up with, but all four of us felt really strongly that there was no reason to do this unless it was really good. And Dean very much had that same attitude of: ‘Let’s put the work in, let’s work really hard, let’s not dash it off, let’s not be cynical about it.’ That way, hopefully, we all felt we could make a really good movie,” said Alex Winter.
“From my perspective, the only way you can meet your own sense of expectation, even theoretically, is to work hard. For everyone to bring 100+ percent to the game. And that’s what we did. We had a really amazing crew and amazing actors, and all of them worked incredibly hard. Most of all, there was just a hell of a lot of heart behind it. So, we’re really happy with it. We’re really proud of it. And now we’ve got to let it go,” Alex Winter continued.
“We were really determined, all of us, to not just do ‘a sequel’ unless there was a real reason to do it. Whatever we did had to answer the ‘Why?’ And that’s what this script does. It’s a great story and a genuine progression,” Keanu Reeves concluded.
To learn more about the movie check out the full interview in the video above.
Bill & Ted Face The Music will release simultaneously released in theaters and through video on demand on August 28th.