I absolutely adored Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991) when I saw it as a young teen, and it made a lot more sense when I finally caught the equally fun Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) some time afterwards. The idea of a third movie, some 30 years later, was both intriguing and a bit worrying. I mean, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Bill and Ted know that it is their destiny to write the song that unites the whole world – some bodacious dude from the future told them so! But now middle age has arrived and the pair are still, quite frankly, losers. Their brief taste of fame and adulation at the end of the last movie, after winning the Battle of the Bands, clearly didn’t stick, and now it seems we might all be out of time.
With just hours left before their date with destiny (although how that works given, y’know, time travel?), the slackers hatch the obvious plan: travel forward to a point in time where they have already written the song, and bring it back. Of course, they also have to deal with a murderous time-travelling robot, Medieval Princess Babe wives who might or might not be leaving them, and two teenage daughters who have so much in common with their dads.
I’ve been looking forward to this and slightly dreading it in equal measures, so first thing: this did not poop all over my fond childhood memories! Made with a clear love of its roots, part three is an overall sweet and gentle kind of affair, which I think was the right call, especially in this day and age.
And there’s plenty to like. The duo are still being excellent to each other, still have that sense of innate goodness. There are nods back and easter eggs a-plenty. The various future versions of themselves they visit are a whole lot of fun. And the female versions of B&T, Billie and Thea, are exactly as you’d imagine them to be.
However, while I enjoyed the movie and liked a lot of it, it’s not… well, it’s not ‘excellent’. It’s fine, okay. I’m glad I saw it, and it hit enough buttons. But… hmm. Hmm. It was slightly disconcerting seeing these ‘teenage’ slackers grown to middle age, I suppose. And while they’re obviously having fun, there’s a lack of much newness here – while at the same time the things that are new feel ever so slightly out of place. I dunno, I would have been disappointed to switch the focus any more off Bill and Ted onto the daughters, for example, and yet the latter needed some more time spent with them to seem like more than just weird imitations?
All of which is asking a lot from the third in what has always been a gently dumb, fun kind of daft series. This one fits, and after such a long gap that’s quite an achievement! Still, it feels more like a loving homage to the first two movies than anything new, and to be fair, I suspect that’s probably what a lot of the audience actually wanted.
Overall: it’s as daft as expected, plays to the fans of the original, and provides a sweet and fun little break from the realities of the world. If there’s a little added pathos in there from watching cute young things remind you that life doesn’t always play out the way you expect – well, bonus.
Released: 23rd September 2020
Viewed: 31st August 2020
Running time: 91 minutes
My rating: 7.5/10