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Film / Bill & Ted Face the Music

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Whoa! No way!
"Sometimes things don't make sense till the end of the story."
Rufus's credo

Bill & Ted Face the Music is a Science Fiction comedy starring Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. It is the long-awaited third film in the Bill & Ted franchise, coming 29 years after Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. It was directed by Dean Parisot and written by franchise creators Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon.

Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted Theodore Logan are now middle-aged rockers who are well-past their glory days. And despite decades passing since their adventures through time and death, they still haven't written the song that will unite the world. This long-gestating task takes on new urgency when a visitor from the future comes and tells them that they need to write the song in the next 78 minutes.

To finally fulfill this task, Bill and Ted travel through time and encounter old friends and new adventures.

The film was released in select theaters and on digital platforms on August 28th, 2020. Here are the most-triumphant official trailers, dudes.

The movie has a comic book prequel called Bill And Ted Are Doomed set not long after Bogus Journey, chronicling the boys' first attempt to unite the world by going on a World Tour, but things don't go as planned.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: A posthumous example. This film's messenger from the future is Kelly, Rufus' daughter. She's named after the daughter of George Carlin, who played Rufus in the first two movies.
  • All for Nothing: Downplayed with the events of the previous films. Despite all the help provided to ensure their success, Wyld Stallyns never managed to craft the song that would unite the world by the events of Face the Music and the band is in dire straits. However, Bill and Ted are still very close friends with a positive attitude in spite of everything, and it's clear that their lives are better than they would have been had Rufus never intervened all those years ago. Things will go downhill swiftly, however, if they fail in their mission, meaning that the film is essentially the pair trying to prevent this trope from applying in full.
  • Apocalypse How: Straight-up Class Z very nearly happens, as all of time and the infinite multiverse is very nearly wiped away. Luckily, the heroes succeed in stopping it, and reality is saved.
  • Arc Words: "Sometimes things don't make sense till the end of the story."
  • Armor-Piercing Response: Bill and Ted get into an argument over who should've written the song with the first set of future selves they encounter.
    Ted: You're the one who didn't write it, Ted!
    Future Ted: Well, you're the one who lost his wife, Ted!
  • As Himself:
    • Kid Cudi appears in the movie playing himself.
    • Dave Grohl shows up after future Bill and Ted use his house to pretend that they've become rich and famous to present-day Bill and Ted.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: In-universe, the titular duo, in their many attempts to "create the song that would unite the world", end up writing totally incomprehensible music that pleases no one. Notably, at Missy and Deacon's wedding, Bill and Ted try to perform the first three movements of "That Which Binds Us Through Time: The Chemical, Physical, and Biological Nature of Love and the Exploration of the Meaning of Meaning— Part 1". If the title wasn't bad enough, the music was so alienating that everyone cringed until Ted's dad literally pulled the plug.
  • Beauty Inversion: Downplayed. Billie and Thea are portrayed by attractive actresses but the focus was on making them seem like the Distaff Counterpart to their respective dads. So their clothing, hairstyles and facial expressions emulate the SoCal slacker/doofus look with shaggy long hair and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Book Ends:
    • The movie begins and ends in a shot from outer space, both times narrated by Billie and Thea.
    • A meta one for the franchise. The first film started with the pair rocking on their guitars in their garage. This film ends with the duo doing likewise in the post-credits, this time as old men.
  • Black and Nerdy: Kid Cudi demonstrates intimate familiarity with the science of time travel and can speak knowledgeably about the subject.
    Kid Cudi: So is this some kind of error in a holographic dual field? Or is it a Wilsonian loop causing a temporal singularity?
    Billie: Well, it seems to me your classic tautological causal circuit!
    Kid Cudi: I don't know. Seems like textbook entanglement to me.
    Thea: I must say, your understanding of our dire circumstances is most impressive.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The phone booth that Rufus presented Bill and Ted in the first film has been turned into a monument in the future. Bill and Ted steal it to travel through time and obtain the song that will unite all of time and reality from themselves in the future.
  • Broad Strokes: How the film treats the end credits of Bogus Journey. Wyld Stallyns indeed put out albums following the climax of the second film, and Death indeed made his own poorly-received solo album, but they did not unite the world and the band faded into obscurity as their music was increasingly poorly received.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Billie and Thea appear like a pair of dim garage-dwellers, but they have an encyclopedic knowledge of music theory and history that comes in handy when it turns out that they're the ones who create the song that unites all of time and reality.
  • Call-Back:
    • When presented to the Most Important People in the future, Bill and Ted try to trot out what they said in their previous meeting. This time, it doesn't go so well.
    Bill: Be excellent to each other.
    Ted: And party on, dudes!
    Most Important People: (Stony silence)
    • This is the third time we've heard Ted say that he had a bad feeling about the situation. The first time, it was when they met Rufus and themselves from the future. The second time, when he was in the back of the van while Evil Bill and Evil Ted were driving them to the desert. This time, he says it after meeting Kelly.
    • Kid Cudi shouts out "Station!" to which Bill, Ted, Elizabeth, and Joanna shout it back in return.
    • The number that they enter for the infinite starts with "69," a callback to when future Bill and Ted guessed the number they were thinking of: 69 (dudes!).
    • Just before embarking on their latest adventure, Ted says, "Bill, my friend..." to which Bill responds, "Yes, Ted, my friend?" Ted does this in the first film at a comparable moment.
  • The Cameo:
    • Rufus is shown as a hologram with the original phone booth (modified stock footage of George Carlin in the first film) when Bill and Ted are brought to the future.
    • The mansion that Bill and Ted find their future selves in actually belongs to Dave Grohl, who comes home and calls the cops on the four of them.
    • During the montage of people playing music and dancing during the credits, "Weird Al" Yankovic can briefly be seen playing his accordion.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ted's father did not believe the two when they told of their adventures in time travel, meeting Death, and visiting Heaven and Hell, calling them delusional. He changes his tune after getting killed and sent to Hell, and apologizes... but only to Ted.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • When Captain Logan gets shot, the police van gets destroyed and falls to Hell with him. The gang later drives it out of Hell.
    • One that is set up way back in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, namely the correct way to dial Infinity... Just press the Infinity button, note  which appears on every single version of the booth made.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The song Bill and Ted play at the wedding is a garish mish-mash of random instruments and singing that never quite comes together. The actual song that brings the world together involves a Time Crash and allowing everyone to join in with whatever instrument they want, the same basic idea as their first song but amplified through the power of Mozart on the piano, Louis Armstrong on trumpet, Jimi Hendrix on bass and "the Great Ones" themselves to come in for an epic guitar finale.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The film never addresses what happened to the other members of Wyld Stallyns who performed at the Grand Canyon concert: Station and the Good Robot Us-es.
  • Comically Missing the Point: At the urging of their wives, Bill and Ted go to couples therapy... as a foursome.
    Therapist: When your wives suggested couples therapy, do you think this is what they had in mind?
    Bill: Definitely. I mean, we're a couple of couples, right?
  • Contrasting Sequel Antagonist: The new leader of the organisation that gave Bill and Ted the time machine in the first place is trying to kill them because she thinks that their deaths will bring about utopia. Though she does send another robot assassin after them. Meanwhile, Ted's dad is still being a Fantasy-Forbidding Father, but he's in no position to send his adult son to military school.
  • Creator Cameo: Series writers Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon as Stupid Demon and Ugly Demon.
  • Dance Party Ending: Sort of. It's not from the characters, but rather clips of various people sent in from fans just messing around and jamming out, essentially implying that they're dancing along with the song that unites the world.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: The Great Leader decides to work with the theory that Bill and Ted's deaths will cause utopia and sends Dennis to assassinate them.
  • Devil, but No God: Although God and Heaven were seen in the previous movie, everyone who dies in this movie goes to Hell regardless of whether they were good or bad.
    • The entire multiverse falling apart probably had something to do with it.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Great Leader never had a backup plan if her robot actually killed Bill and Ted and it didn’t fix reality, meaning that she likely would’ve condemned the universe to death because of her impulsiveness and pride.
    • Bill from 5 years in the future tries to shoot current Bill…
  • Distaff Counterpart: Bill and Ted's daughters are pretty much gender-flipped versions of them. Unlike Ted's dad, Bill and Ted supported their kids and their interests, and their kids idolize them in turn. For added measure, the two girls travel through time to collect historical figures and even end up in Hell briefly, just like their fathers did.
  • The Dividual: Bill and Ted are so attached at the hip, they say "We love you" to their wives, to the frustration of their marriage counselor. Billie and Thea are the same with each other, and call Bill and Ted "Dads".
    • To a lesser extent, Jo and Liz. As princesses from the 15th century, they're the only ones who really understand each other's experience.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Parodied with Dennis Caleb McCoy. He gains the ability to feel emotion, a name and unique identity, and even a soul, judging by how he ends up in Hell. But... nobody makes a big deal of it, seemingly because they don't care.
  • Dreadful Musician: In their quest to fulfill their destinies, Bill and Ted have taken to smashing disparate musical styles together into discordant pieces in the hopes that one of them will be the song that will save the world.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The first two pairs of future selves that Bill and Ted visit reveal that the latter becomes The Alcoholic after they both lose their wives.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Bill and Ted have a moment of realization when they look at the broken USB drive and figure out the Exact Words of the prophecy.
  • Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: In the future utopia that Bill and Ted visit, everything is sleek, round, and white.
  • Exact Words: The prophecy states that a song by Preston-Logan will unite the world. It turns out that the song is actually by Billie and Thea, Bill and Ted's daughters, while the "Great Ones", Bill and Ted, bring it all together and perform the Epic Rocking that saves all of reality. In other words, it's a family effort that saves the day.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Ted's dad doesn't believe Bill and Ted's stories about time travel or the afterlife. He thinks that they should quit trying to unite the world and get jobs. He later apologizes when he meets them in Hell— but only to Ted.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: The killbot from the future is named Dennis Caleb McCoy.
  • Foreshadowing: Bill and Ted's strange musical mash-up at Missy and Deacon's wedding hints at the trouble that Billie and Thea later face when trying to get the greatest band of all time to perform together.
  • Free-Sample Plot Coupon: When Billie and Thea went through time to recruit musicians to help with the song that would unite the world, Louis Armstrong needed the least coaxing to join. The others required at least a bit more effort.
  • Funny Background Event: When Bill and Ted are getting yelled at by Mr. Logan at the wedding, their daughters can be seen in the background forming a conga line with some small kids.
  • Future Loser: By the time of this film, Bill and Ted are barely ekeing out an existence as musicians. They find that they fall even further from grace in the future.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Bill and Ted run into themselves while trying to get the song to change the world, but each time their future seems worse than the last. Over the course of decades they go from washouts and alcoholics, to squatters and thieves, to angry (and weirdly ripped) prison inmates. The versions of them on their deathbed have mellowed out, however, and explain that none of the intervening years are set in stone.
  • Grand Finale: The film puts an end to the series by definitively showing how Bill and Ted bring about a utopia through their music. The film concludes with old Bill and Ted rocking out one last time.
  • Gender-Blender Name: The instances of "Little Bill" and "Little Ted" from the previous films are explained as nicknames for Billie and Thea.
  • Generation Xerox: Aside from the difference in chromosomes, Billie and Thea are just like their dads, and they even go on their own time-traveling adventures that involve picking up historical figures.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Played with, Billie and Thea get the musicians needed to help write the song. But it's just the starting point. Bill and Ted realize that if they're gonna truly unite everyone, then everyone through time and space should join in too. So they use the "Infinite" number on the phone booth to project themselves across time and space and give people instruments to help out.
  • Happy Ending Override: The second movie ended with the implication that the Wyld Stallyns' worldwide concert was the night that united the world in peace. This film reveals that it wasn't, and they still haven't written the song meant to do that yet.
  • Hero of Another Story: Aside from both Bill and Ted as well as their daughters, the princesses have their own time-travelling adventures off-screen in order to find a time where they'd be happy with their marriages. By the end, they both decide that they're happy being with Bill and Ted in the present.
  • Historical Domain Character: Billie and Thea meet and recruit Louis Armstrong, Jimi Hendrix, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ling Lun on their quest through time to form a band.
  • Historical Gender Flip: The girls are surprised to find out that Ling Lun is actually a woman.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: It is revealed that Death had a falling out with Wyld Stallyns when the fame went to his head, leading to a restraining order against him. Because he basically broke the rules and snuck the both of them into Heaven in the last film, he was demoted and now lives alone in Hell, bereft of his friends and clearly missing his rocking days.
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Elder Bill and Ted to their present-day selves after finally writing the song said to unite the world.
  • Improbable Age: Johnathan Logan, Ted's father, was not particularly young even in the original movie. In this film he is apparently an active member of the San Dimas police force despite being in at least his late seventies (he isn't just manning a desk either— he goes out into the field with a SWAT team).
  • Inventional Wisdom: The Terminator Impersonator that the Great Leader sent to assassinate Bill and Ted can time-travel, has a disintegrator ray, and is smart enough to identify Bill and Ted on sight, but it was also given a capacity to feel enough to where it felt guilt when it accidentally kills Ted's father, Thea and Billie, and the band that they were putting together, and then decides to commit suicide when it's given the chance to kill them. It was also given a full name — Dennis Caleb McCoy — after Kelly's ex-boyfriend.
  • Karma Houdini: Nothing bad happens to the Great Leader for sending a killbot that murders a dozen people. (Well, they do get better.)
  • Logo Joke: The variant logo of Hammerstone studios different from the regular one from the trailer. It's covered in cave drawings depicting various types of music, with Bill and Ted sitting on the phone booth atop it.
  • LOL, 69: The number for the Infinite starts with 69. Or at least Bill & Ted think it does. You actually reach the Infinite by pressing the Infinity key.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Occasionally cuts to the Great Leader monitoring thing from the future.
  • Misplaced-Names Poster: Keanu Reeves receives top billing, with his name on the left, but it's above Alex Winter's head. It would have been simple to just flip the actors on the poster, but it's following the longstanding tradition throughout the franchise of having Bill appear on the left and Ted on the right.
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming: Best friends William "Bill" Preston and Theodore "Ted" Logan named their daughters after each other, resulting in Theodora "Thea" Preston and Wilhelmina "Billie" Logan.
  • NEET: The duo and their daughters are both unemployed.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The duo visit their future selves in various years up to 2067. They all look like modern day.
  • Nice Guy: As with previous installments, Bill and Ted are very cheerful and friendly, though the weight of their responsibility weighs on them heaviest in this film. Billie and Thea take after their fathers and are endearingly sweet.
  • No Swastikas: The Hindenburg appears in the background, but swastikas on the tail are just white circles.
  • Official Fan-Submitted Content: All of the clips seen in the end credits montage were sent in by Bill & Ted fans as part of a contest. Yes, even the "Weird" Al clip.
  • Out of Time, Out of Mind: Bill and Ted get killed in 2067, so the other characters that they reunite with in Hell should have been there for three decades, but they don't seem that bothered.
  • Papa Wolf: Once Bill and Ted find out that their daughters were sent to Hell, they have no hesitation going there to find them, even if it means having to kill themselves to do it.
  • Percussive Maintenance: On several occasions, Bill gives the time machine a whack to make it work.
  • The Power of Rock: Taken to the extreme when all of time and space is saved by every person throughout all of history playing the same song simultaneously.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The future Bill and Ted in prison are quite content to force their present counterparts to take their places, but they still immediately move to protect them from Dennis. As they say, Dennis killing the younger versions means they would be wiped out of existence.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Taken to a ridiculous extreme with the future Bill and Ted in prison, who are built like tanks.
  • Real Time: From the moment Bill and Ted are told of the deadline, the film more or less proceeds in real time, with occasional check-ins to see how much time is left.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: The idea of a song so great that it united the entire world in peace was inherently absurd from the very start, not to mention that no on-screen depiction could do it justice. This movie reveals that it was not about the song itself, but the circumstances allowing everyone on Earth across all time to be able to play it.
  • Retcon: To achieve a Happy Ending Override the news clippings at the end of Bogus Journey are largely ignored, with the film saying Bill, Ted and Death had a modest career before imploding because they hadn't actually written THE song yet. Similarly, their kids Bill and Ted were obviously intended to be boys while the film has them be girls with feminine names Whilhemina and Theodora, such that when they are adults they go by Bille and Thea.
  • Running Gag: The killer robot's repeated assertions that his name is Dennis Caleb McCoy. Also, several people express surprise that a robot went to Hell.
    • The film also continues the series Running Gag of Missy marrying a family member of Bill or Ted— this time, it's Ted's brother, Deacon.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Retroactive example. At the end of Bogus Journey, we're led to believe that the pair had sons when they introduce them to the audience of the stadium. This film reveals that they were actually their daughters.
  • San Dimas Time: As expected from the trope naming series, it's in the very premise of the movie. Bill and Ted are told that they have to write their world-changing song in the next 78 minutes or all of time and reality will unravel. Kelly gives the two Rufus' old watch so they can see how long they have left.
    • Indeed, the Great Leader, 600 years in the future uses words like "tonight" to refer to events that would have happened centuries ago.
  • Self-Plagiarism: Ted proposes that he and Bill go to a future point in time after they wrote the song that will unite the world and save themselves the trouble of writing it in the present.
    Ted: Why can't we just go to the future and when we have written it?
    Bill: And take it from ourselves!
    Ted: But isn't that stealing?
    Bill: How's that stealing if we're stealing it from ourselves, dude?
  • Spin-Offspring: Aside from the duo themselves, the duo's daughters Billie and Thea also get involved.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Bill and Ted had a falling out with Death (which involved a lawsuit and a restraining order) because Death kept hogging Wyld Stallyns' time on stage with extended bass solos and even tried to take the band's name for himself.
    Death: You wouldn't let me play!
    Ted: Dude! You were playing 40-minute bass solos. No one but you could play!
  • Stable Time Loop: In keeping tradition with the previous films, though it includes exploring Alternate Timelines as potential futures that don't actually come to pass and a few references to quantum mechanics. The story involves a Time Crash with the Timey-Wimey Ball in effect, muddling this trope but still using it in the end.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: With time running out, Bill and Ted look up Infinity in the directory and start the tedious process of dialing the full number, only for the princesses to point out that the phone booth has an Infinity button.
  • The Stinger: After the credits, we see the elder versions of Bill and Ted deciding to rock out on their guitars for old times' sake, though naturally they get winded afterward. Serves as a Bookend as well, as the first movie likewise ended on this note. At least this time they can play.
  • Super Cell Reception: Kelly’s cellphone, to ridiculous degrees. She not only can talk to her mother when they’re in different times, but she can also talk to her from Hell when she’s dead.
  • Take Our Word for It: We don't hear the song that the British Bill and Ted give to the current Bill and Ted. They just say that it's amazing. While you might assume that it's because no actual song could live up to the criteria set by the film, it's actually because it's really a Dave Grohl song. We do hear some of the song given to them by the old Bill and Ted.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Missy has gone on to marry Deacon, Ted's younger brother, creating some paradoxical relations within the Logan family.
    Bill: This happy event will seem to make Deacon his own father-in-law and Ted his own uncle.
    Ted: Not to mention making my dad his own son.
  • Tattooed Crook: Bill and Ted briefly meet versions of themselves in prison, who are muscle-bound and covered in tattoos that say things like "Excellent" and "Heinous".
  • Terminator Impersonator: Believing that the death of Bill and Ted is actually what unites the world, The Great Leader sends a robot back in time to hunt them down. While seemingly an emotionless killing machine, it's shown to be a socially-awkward loser who is deeply troubled whenever it causes collateral damage.
  • Terminator Twosome: Dennis goes back to kill Bill and Ted, which prompts Kelly to go back to try to save them.
  • Time Crash: What will happen when Bill and Ted don't play the song on time. We see its effects at the start of the film, but it really begins to get bad around midway through, with people and objects being transported all across space and time until it eventually gets undone in the end.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball:
    • Although San Dimas Time is in effect and Bill and Ted have a fixed period of time to write their song, versions of themselves from the future reveal that quantum entanglement means that there are an infinite number of realities existing at once, so present Bill and Ted aren't necessarily locked into the Future Loser lives that they glimpsed in their travels. This is in direct conflict with the Hard Deterministic, Self-Fulfilling Prophecy-style rules established in the first two films.
    • Time doesn't seem to exist in Hell, as the characters reunite there despite all dying in different time periods (Ted's father in 2025, Billie, Thea, Kelly and the musicians in 2020, and Bill, Ted and Dennis in 2067). When Death takes them back to life, they're back in 2020.
    • In the climax, Bill, Ted, Elizabeth, and Joanna use the phone booth to exist in all places at all moments to distribute instruments to everyone who ever lived.
  • Title Drop: The song that they must write that saves the world, and is retrieved from the elder Bill & Ted on a USB stick.
  • To Hell and Back: Kelly's mother aka The Great Leader sends a robot to stop Bill and Ted due to them illegally using the old phone booth to time travel. But he accidentally vaporizes Ted's father, their daughters, the musicians that they recruit, and Kelly, thus forcing Bill and Ted to detour to go save them from Hell (which looks much different from its depiction in Bogus Journey), along the way reconciling with Death, whom they had a falling out with between movies.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The film follows two plots, Bill and Ted's search for the song to unite the worlds through the future, and their daughters, Billie and Thea, traveling through time to get musicians to help them write it. All the while, time and space start unraveling. The two plots converge when everyone gets sent to Hell.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Great Leader decides to work with the theory that Bill and Ted dying will cause utopia, and tries to have them assassinated.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Station and the Good Robot Bill and Teds are never seen or mentioned in the film, apart from "Station!" being exchanged as a farewell at one point. The prequel comic, Bill and Ted Are Doomed, fills in the gaps of what became of them.
    • Bill's father (Ian Preston) is also absent from the film and only briefly mentioned in passing, with no indication about his present whereabouts or whether the character is even still living.
  • White-Dwarf Starlet: The premise of the movie is that Bill and Ted were once epic rockers playing to huge crowds, but now they're middle-aged losers nowhere near that popular or famous.
    The Great Leader: 25 years ago, you played a concert in front of the entire world. One month ago, you played in Barstow, California, for 40 people, most of whom were there for "Two-Dollar Taco Night!"
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The writers seem to have forgotten what years the first two movies were set in:
    • The Rufus hologram mentions first meeting Bill and Ted in 1989. Though Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was released in '89, it was explicitly set in 1988.
    • This movie's set in 2020, but the Great Leader mentions that Bill and Ted did their concert 25 years ago, meaning that Bogus Journey would have to be set in 1995. Bogus Journey inconsistently set itself in 1991note  and 1993note .
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Billie and Thea try to recruit Jimmy Hendrix in 1967, but to convince him go back even further they get Louis Armstrong from 1922 and bring him to 1967. Hendrix doesn't believe it is Armstrong and brushes them off until he plays the trumpet.