Beyond the two music-obsessed pals (Reeves is Ted, Winter’s Bill), the project reunited original writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (also of “Men in Black” renown) and enlisted director Dean Parisot, whose “Galaxy Quest” remains a gold standard of sci-fi comedy.
Time, meanwhile, has given Bill and Ted not only spouses (Erinn Hayes and Jayma Mays) but a pair of daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine) who are just like their middle-aged dads, described during the somewhat dizzying opening sequence as 24-year-old slackers who live at home.
Other than making the kids female, the whole apples-not-falling-far-from-the-tree thing feels a bit tired, as does the central, very basic premise: Bill and Ted must create a song that will unite the world — working against a ticking-clock scenario that’s roughly the duration of the movie — in order to “save reality as we know it.”
The threat actually sets up a dual structure, as Bill and Ted travel into the future — encountering different versions of themselves, who might have written the elusive song — while their kids seek to help their dads, offering a broader window into history (and historical figures) that more closely mirrors the original “Excellent Adventure” and “Bogus Journey.”
“Bill & Ted” is clearly an artifact of its time — with a better gift than most for coining catchphrases — from a period when there was a particular appetite for dopey duos, introduced between Cheech & Chong and “Beavis and Butt-head.”
Frankly, one suspects the outtakes are better than the actual movie, but the sheer silliness of the exercise, and its lack of pretensions, works in its favor. That might be especially true for Reeves, who always appears to relish getting to show off a lighter side that doesn’t come saddled with the body count of his John Wick/Matrix duties.
Besides, at a moment when saving reality as we know it doesn’t sound quite so far-fetched, there’s something mildly reassuring about watching “Bill & Ted” blithely joined in rocking on, even if true excellence eludes them.
“Bill & Ted Face the Music” is available on demand and in theaters beginning Aug. 28. It’s rated PG-13.