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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill & Ted Face the Music wraps up the trilogy that began in 1989 about two time-traveling buddies (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) who learn that they'll one day unite the world through song. Now the pressure is on to make that moment happen. This time around, the emphasis is on musical history, and Bill and Ted's teen daughters (Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine) jump through time to put together a band of musical greats from around the world. The film seems intended for '80s and '90s kids to watch with their own children, and it works in that regard. Just as in the prior films, the iffy content is fairly limited and incredibly unrealistic. Bill pulls a gun on himself, a hilariously meek robot lasers people into hell, and an older character is shown drinking vodka from the bottle because of his failures, but it's all played as over-the-top silliness. There's some profanity, but it's infrequent and mild -- the worst of it is two instances of the men calling themselves a "d--k."
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What's the story?
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC is the third installment of Bill and Ted's story, which began with 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and continued in 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Now, 30 years after they first became iconic on-screen teen slackers, Bill (Alex Winter) and Ted (Keanu Reeves) are middle-aged dads who have the opportunity to save the universe (again) if they can go into the future and write the perfect, unifying rock song. This sci-fi comedy's cast includes William Sadler reprising his role as the Grim Reaper, as well as Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Beck Bennett, Kid Cudi, and Jillian Bell.
Is it any good?
The Bill & Ted franchise comes to an end most impressively with a satisfying finale that longtime fans can share with their kids. Bill & Ted Face the Music is brimming with love and joy: It looks like the actors and filmmakers had so much fun making it, and that fun is contagious. That's because this isn't an example of a studio trying to squeeze one last breath out of beloved characters. Rather, as Bill and Ted devotees know, it's the hard-won result of a tireless two-decade effort from the movie's stars and writers to tell one more story. And that matters, because the first two films don't see the young heroes achieving their glorious destiny. Face the Music sets out to resolve that loose thread, as well as address the real consequences about how it would feel to fail to live up to expectations.
Don't worry, Bill and Ted aren't that realistic -- they're still the two sweet doofuses we adore, now with daughters (Weaving and Lundy-Paine, who hilariously embodies young Ted more than Reeves) and wives (the medieval princesses, recast once again in the form of Jayma Mays and Erinn Hayes). Returning is epic scene-stealer Death (Sadler), who proves that even the Grim Reaper has feelings. Schaal helps bridge the gap as Rufus' millennial daughter, who comically eyerolls and ughs at her mother, the Great Leader (Holland Taylor), who's given up on Bill and Ted and has sent an insecure assassin robot after them. Robot Dennis Caleb McCoy (Anthony Carrigan) is a wonderfully original character and should become a favorite of the younger set. This finale offers endless rewards for fans -- it's a gigglefest, with some jokes making you laugh into the next scene. As always, our boys may be a bit daft, but they're also a wellspring of positivity. And thirty years later, "Be excellent to each other" has never meant more.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Bill & Ted Face the Music's idea that a broken world can be unified through music -- or, more broadly, entertainment. Do you think there's anything to that notion?
Much of the comedy here comes from characters acting in nonstereotypical ways, such as Death having hurt feelings or a killer robot that worries about making mistakes. Why is this funny?
The filmmakers and actors persevered for more than two decades to get this "threequel" made. Why do you think it was important to them -- and the fans -- to make another movie?
If you had a time machine, what time periods would you visit? What group of historical figures would you like to gather together, and why?
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