Welcome to Shot by Shot, our ongoing series of breakdowns. We’re constantly scouring movie trailers for perfect shots. In this column, we share our favorites and discuss them.
The sequel we thought we’d never see is finally here. After securing their future by going into the past for Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and battling their way out of heaven and hell in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) and Bill S. Preston, Esq. (Alex Winter) are back in Bill & Ted Face the Music. Twenty-five years after they brought peace to the planet, the bodacious brothers from other mothers must once again slip into the timestream to prove their worth to the rest of us.
As expected, life did not turn out exactly how Bill and Ted dreamed. The Wyld Stallyns utopia promised at the end of Bogus Journey equaled little more than a typical mid-life crisis, but as with all things Bill and Ted, there is nothing typical to the solutions presented by their hopeful timeline guardians.
Rufus (George Carlin) may no longer be around, but that doesn’t mean the future has given up on their saviors. They’re back to lend a helping hand to our lovable duo in the only way they know how: time travel. However, if we dig into the trailer shot by shot, you’ll notice there is something a little hinky regarding their phone booth continuity superhighway. Or at least, as far as how Bill and Ted use this gifted technology.
We see the Bill and Ted of today shred their electric guitars as a beam of blue light straight out of a Marvel movie shines a spotlight upon them, and we hear The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) reminisce on the possible paradise suggested by the climax of the last movie. “Twenty-five years ago,” she says, “you played a concert in front of the entire world.”
Yes, they were gods of Metal, and as this image suggests, they will get there again. Not only that, but they’ll also be backed by a police officer wailing on flute. Hey, if Jethro Tull can rock a reed, so can these dudes.
But before we can get to that shot, Bill and Ted have to face the music and the shaming of The Great Leader. They may have filled a stadium once upon a time, but these days, they’re lucky to fill the back of a bar during open mic night. Sure, the Wyld Stallyns can still get their name on the poster, but two-dollar taco night draws most of their crowd. Oof.
The Great Leader and her peers place Bill and Ted in their philosophical shooting gallery. “What have you got to say for yourselves?” she asks.
Bill and Ted did indeed unite the entire world in Bogus Journey. Just look at all those headlines that scroll through the end credits. They disarmed the nuclear threat of nations. They managed to secure Death (William Sadler) a solo cello recording contract. They achieved miracles.
Another quick note: future fashions have shifted quite a bit. Thankfully, there is a lot less DayGlo sponge on their person. If that is all Bogus Journey corrected, then that’s enough.
Bill and Ted know they’re in hot water, but with the eyes of the future glaring down on them, they rely on the tried and true morality of Abraham Lincoln, “Be excellent to each other. Party on dudes.” The Great Leader is having none of it. What worked for the Wyld Stallyns in the ’80s and ’90s will not work for them today.
Bill and Ted remember what they learned from their previous adventures, but did their educational journey cease after their last victory? It appears so. Life is a forever process. The moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing. Bill and Ted failed each other, and in doing so, they failed the future.
A great catastrophe is rippling across reality. The Great Leader puts them back in the phone booth, and while we see a pair of blurry historical figures pop into some version of our present, Bill and Ted are not here to simply monkey about with the past to save the day. Maybe their time travel tinkering has finally got the best of them.
Bill and Ted need to get creative. They need to think outside the box/booth. Their old tricks are only causing more chaos on the streets. They need new tricks.
A lightbulb bursts over Bill’s head. What if, instead of going backward, they go forwards? What if they reach into the future and steal their song from themselves? Nothing can go wrong, right?
We only get one brief glimpse of Bill and Ted’s kids: Thea Preston (Samara Weaving) and Billie Logan (Brigette Lundy-Paine). No doubt there is more to their story than what we see here, and if Bill and Ted are actually smart and not just the loveable doofuses we’ve seen before, they’ll make their mission into the future a family affair.
For the most part, everything Samara Weaving has attached herself to these days has been golden. Her involvement, in a lot of ways, is the ultimate seal of approval to the quality of Bill & Ted Face the Music. If she’s in, I’m in.
“You might be a king or a little street sweeper, but sooner or later you dance with the reaper.” True to his rap, Death (Sadler) returns for the second sequel. Ecstatic to see his old pals, he leads Bill and Ted into a rollicking air guitar rift.
Death is either hanging out in hell with demons and dragons circling his bachelor pad, or Bill and Ted have met up with the grim reaper in a future that is most bogus. What’s not bogus is the rad collection of memorabilia Death has collected in the years since we last saw him. We can see his Rolling Stone cover, a Wyld Stallyns crew jacket, multiple newspaper headlines championing their triumph at the end of Bogus Journey, and his scythe featured prominently in the corner.
Bill and Ted discover pretty quickly that jumping into the future is not as easy as it sounds, nor is it really possible. Their phone booth does not plop down into their timeline, but into a much bleaker parallel reality. The Bill and Ted they find are a couple of ‘roided out prison convicts.
Notice how Ted’s chest is tattooed with the names of his wife and daughter as well as his most Excellent brand, but Bill’s stomach sports the more appropriate ink: Heinous.
No way! Bill and Ted have faced diabolical doubles in the past, but nothing like these brutes. If they have to go one-on-one with their doppelgangers, they’re going to end up with a couple of mighty painful Melvins (a.k.a. totally gnarly frontal wedgies).
The Bill and Ted hulks ask our heroes what they thought of their song. Our Ted responds truthfully, “It’s a little on the dark side, but you know, that’s cool.” There is always room for death metal, but these demons will not be the ones responsible for uniting the Earth into one glorious harmony.
The real question becomes, will these two be the only doppelgangers that Bill and Ted face while they face the music? Marvel movies have eased cinematic audiences into the concept of the multiverse, so Bill and Ted have an opportunity here to run wild with the concept. Bring us all the crazy, wild, and uncomfortable versions of these characters that you can muster. Heck, why not toss in a few other Deaths while they’re at it? And yeah, we need Station, too.
Bill & Ted Face the Music is currently scheduled to hit theaters on August 21st.