Break out the air guitars. After almost 30 years, the long-awaited, highly anticipated third Bill & Ted movie is finally coming out this week. Perhaps it’s time for a most triumphant refresher?
Bill & Ted Face the Music picks up the story of Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) basically in real-time. The best friends and would-be musicians who are destined to save the universe are now in their 50s and life hasn’t exactly turned out how they’d hoped. Or were told it would. Or, oddly, even the way things left off in the previous movie.
To prepare for Face the Music, the best thing to do would be to rewatch 1989's Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and 1991's Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. But, if you don’t have the time, you can either get in a time-traveling phone booth and make the time or keep reading. We did just that (the rewatch, not the time travel) and, though we haven’t seen the new film yet, we have a good idea of all the important tidbits you’ll need to know before facing the music.
Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted “Theodore” Logan are two teenagers living in 1989 San Dimas, California. The pair are inseparable best friends who love rock music, “babes,” and water slides, and aspire to one day be huge stars with their band, Wyld Stallyns. However, they don’t know how to play instruments or read music. Also, the band is in danger of breaking up because Ted is going to be sent to military school if he flunks history, which he (and Bill) are almost certainly going to.
That can’t happen though. You see, 700 years in the future, society is built around the principals and music of Wyld Stallyns—Bill and Ted’s music turns out to be so good it actually changes the universe. To make sure the band stays together and that happens, a man from that future named Rufus (George Carlin) visits Bill and Ted a gives them a time-traveling phone booth. His thinking is they can use it to learn about history by going there and seeing it for themselves then hopefully pass the final exam.
Bill and Ted are convinced to go on this historical journey thanks to their future selves telling them to trust Rufus. So off they go and instead of simply learning about people from the past, they decide to bring the past back with them. The duo kidnaps Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, and Abraham Lincoln, who all come to 1989 San Dimas and help Bill and Ted pass the final. Along the way, the pair also meet two princesses, Elizabeth (Kimberley LaBelle) and Joanna (Diane Franklin), from medieval England, who Rufus brings back to San Dimas to join the band. They still can’t play music but Rufus assures the audience that they will, eventually, fulfill their destiny.
Also of importance from the first movie is that Ted’s dad (Hal Landon Jr.) is a very strict police officer and Bill’s dad marries a woman named Missy (Amy Stoch) who is only three years older than Bill and Ted.
Fast forward a few years and the Wyld Stallyns still haven’t become famous. They hope to change that at an upcoming battle of the bands, but another future dude named Chuck De Nomolos (Joss Ackland) creates robot versions of Bill and Ted to kill them and sabotage the peaceful future. Everything in Bogus Journey is super duper weird from there but here are the most crucial bits.
Firstly, Bill and Ted propose to Elizabeth and Joanna. Also, the robots are successful in murdering Bill and Ted but while in the afterlife, they befriend the Grim Reaper, aka Death (William Sadler). He joins them on their quest back to life and to save the world from the evil robots. Which they do at the aforementioned San Dimas battle of the bands that becomes a global event.
You see, after the evil robots are defeated by good Bill and Ted robots that an alien named Station created for them, De Nomolos reappears hoping to kill Bill and Ted on his own. To document his triumph, he sets every TV channel in the world to this particular battle of the bands. Bill and Ted defeat him, of course, and then time travel for 16 months so they can finally learn to play instruments. When they return (which happens in an instant because, you know, time travel), Wyld Stallyns—which includes Elizabeth, Joanna, Death, and Station—play an epic performance that’s simultaneously broadcast all over the globe. This is what finally leads them to fame and stardom. Over the film’s credits, headlines from various magazines and newspapers reveal that Wyld Stallyns have helped bring peace to the world, saved the environment, had a movie made about them and, eventually, performed a concert on Mars.
Also of note, when they return from their trip to learn to play music, Bill and Ted have both become fathers. Bill has a son he named Ted, and Ted has a son he named Bill.
Which, for 30 years, we all thought was the end. The destiny of the first film had been fulfilled. And yet, somehow, it hasn’t. Bill & Ted Face the Music seems to act like none of what happens during the credits of Bogus Journey happened. The pair also now have daughters (Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving) instead of sons. How that all ties together, what cosmic event made everything change course, we don’t know. But we’ll all find out very, very soon.
Bill & Ted Face the Music hits theaters, and on-demand, Friday.
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