A Love Letter to Bill and Ted: Face the Music

Since a small poll conducted on Tumblr returned results that a majority of people have not seen Bill and Ted: Face the Music, I have decided to finally sit down and write out what it is I love so deeply about this movie and why I think I'd consider it my favorite Bill and Ted movie out of the three. There are, of course, spoilers ahead, so if you find yourself interested in checking out this essay, maybe consider finally watching Face the Music for yourself beforehand if you haven't already!!

Bill and Ted: Face the Music takes place about 25 years after the end of Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey. The content that made up the end credits of Bogus Journey has essentially been retconned (if it was ever truly canon at all), as Bill and Ted's daughters - Billie and Thea - explain in a brief voice over exposition. Bill and Ted won the Battle of the Bands contest, and Wyld Stallyns was launched into the spotlight, but as time has passed, interest in the band has waned and they are seemingly no closer to their supposed destiny of uniting the world with their music. Most of the other members of the band have moved on, and Bill and Ted are the only ones left, still struggling to write The Song with just the two of them. And this time, when the future comes calling, they have a lot less patience than they've had in previous encounters.

To me, Bill and Ted has always had a core that emphasizes the notion of Interdependence. Essentially, Bill and Ted never make it through the conflict of any movie without relying on the help of others. In Excellent Adventure, Rufus goes back to give them the Time Machine, where they'll travel through history and finally learn the information they need to pass their history report - likely with the help of the English speaking members of their entourage like Lincoln and Freud. In Bogus Journey, Bill and Ted get Death's help to escape from Hell, and to travel to Heaven, where they implore God to help them find Station, who in turn helps them defeat the Evil Robot Bill and Ted. Bill and Ted's greatest skills aren't their independence, their intelligence, or any kind of innate talent - it's their affable natures and their willingness to ask for help when they need it.

In fact, asking for help is exactly the skill that they've learned in between Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey. The conflict in Excellent Adventure arises because Bill and Ted don't have anyone they can ask for help from. Mr. Ryan tells them that they need an A on their report, but doesn't offer any guidance that could help them further, and when they explain their dire situation to Bill's dad, he's too distracted to offer any kind of advice or assistance. They're left trying to get help from people passing by in the parking lot of a gas station, and aren't having much success. Rufus is the one who shows up to offer his help unprompted, and Bill and Ted are able to get help from the historical figures as a by-product of their plan to introduce them to San Dimas.

In Bogus Journey, however, Bill and Ted are constantly asking for help themselves. They ask Death to bring them out of Hell, and to bring them up into Heaven, ask God to help them find someone smart enough to help them, and ask Station for help executing their plan to defeat the Evil Robots. Instead of passively stumbling into people who can help them solve their problems, they're able to take a much more active role in navigating their tribulations - even if they aren't able to do the work independently.

So, what's changed between Bogus Journey and Face the Music? What's causing the new conflict that seemed to have been solved at the end of Bogus Journey? Bill and Ted have lost the confidence they need to ask other people for help, and other people have bought into the story of Bill and Ted's impact so thoroughly that they've stopped offering it. The rest of Wyld Stallyns has moved away from the band, leaving Bill and Ted alone in their efforts to write the song that will ensure the future that Rufus told them about. And the folks in the future, instead of being willing to offer help the way Rufus was, also insist that Bill and Ted should be able to work independently to solve the song all alone. When they come calling this time, all they do is push Bill and Ted into a corner filled with instruments all by themselves and insist they get it done before their 75 minutes are up.

Bill and Ted's ultimate arc, then, is about relearning how to depend on others. Every iteration of their futures that they visit throughout Face the Music, is seemingly worse than the last, specifically becuase Bill and Ted feel like they aren't allowed to get help from anyone but themselves. But, of course, each of their future selves believes the same thing, leaving all of them in a constant loop of chasing their own tails in an attempt to break out of the cycle none of them can end on their own. The Present!Bill and Ted believe that the Future!Bill and Ted's should be able to help them, but all of the Future!Bill and Ted's believe the same of the Present!Bill and Ted, and since they are all themselves, none of them are the ones with the answers.

It's not until the very last of their future iterations that Bill and Ted are reminded that there's always been more to their ability to problem solve than the myth of pulling themselves up by their boostraps. And it's not until they reunite with their daughters - Billie and Thea - that they fully re-understand that sometimes you just need to ask someone else for help. That asking isn't a moral or fundamental failure, but a valued skill in its own right, and sometimes the only solution to the problem at all.

A franchise where the main characters - the heroes of the universe, even - are two men who could very Overtly be read as neurodivergent (whether as autistic, or with learning disabilities, or even with intellectual disabilities) whose struggles through life are largely alleviated by their requests and acceptance of help from other people means SO much to me. At no point do Bill and Ted ever have to 'grow up' and learn to be independent, they are never broken apart from each other, and when their support systems fall through it isn't framed as a well-overdue opportunity to learn to live without it, it's framed as an Unquestionably Bad Thing that needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Bill and Ted don't have a special skill that leave them uniquely able to solve problems no one else can - what makes them the main characters is the fact that they are willing to depend on others for help when others might not be. That's unbelievably special to me, and I'll always adore that with my whole entire heart.

And I haven't even started talking about Billie and Thea yet! Billie and Thea are so unspeakably fun to me, and I wish that they got more attention from the wider fandom. I love that they are both so clearly their fathers' daughters without ever falling into the pitfall of making them carbon copies of their dads - or worse, having their fathers Expect them to be carbon copies of themselves. In fact, even though Billie and Thea undertake what is essentially the Exact same voyage their fathers took in Excellent Adventure, they leave their movie with a much different lesson learned!

In Face the Music, Billie and Thea are arguably the only ones who fully realize what a tribulation their fathers are being put through. While everyone else is worried about forcing Bill and Ted to write the song independently (or, as is the case with the Princesses, encouraging them to give up writing the song entirely), Billie and Thea are the ones who point out what a trial it must be for them to work on a song all by themselves. When Kellye returns to the present to look for Bill and Ted after they absconded to seek help from their future selves, Billie and Thea request the use of her time machine so that they can travel through time seeking out the best musicians from every age to build their dads a super band that will help alleviate the burden of their tasks.

Unlike Bill and Ted in Excellent Adventure, though, Billie and Thea are clearly extremely familiar and comfortable with the history they're engaging in. Bill and Ted picked random eras off their study sheet and randomly selected folks once they were there - Billie and Thea travel to each one already knowing who they're looking for and why they'd be a good inclusion in the band. It's clearly a subject they feel passionate about - going off on little infodumping tangents with each other and the historical musicians almost constantly, excited to be talking to people they've studied so thoroughly and eager to finally be using that knowledge in such important circumstances.

And where Bill and Ted seem almost grounded at the end of their adventure - finally turning their attention from dreams of a triumphant video that will catch the attention of Eddie Van Halen and secure him as a member of their band, onto the more tangible goal of making a more concentrated effort to learn how to play their guitars at all - Billie and Thea are instead pushed to recognize their own already-obtained skills. When Bill and Ted finally realize that Preston/Logan means more than just the two of them, Billie and Thea immediately deflect, claiming "Whatever; we just listen to stuff" "things we like" "just kind of put stuff together". Their arc is not about accepting help with a lack in skill, it's about realizing the full Value of the skills they already have.

While plenty of stories have focused on people whose skills may be actively belittled before revealing their True Use, this is a story where the skills aren't devalued in any way, they're simply sliding under the radar. It's clear that the Preston/Logan households have always prioritized music - Bill and Ted's love for music is obvious throughout all three movies even though they didn't learn how to sufficiently play any instruments until the end of the second movie, and the expanse of their musical technical knowledge displayed during their wedding song simply underlines this. No one - aside from Chief Logan, of course - is of the opinion that musical knowledge is something pointless or impractical in daily life. Even though Bill and Ted don't engage with music history/theory as intently as Billie and Thea do, they DO clearly value Billie and Thea's knowledge and are more than impressed with their recall and understanding of the subject. Billie and Thea are never put down for their interests or passions the way that Bill and Ted were when they were younger.

It's so obvious through the brief interactions we see on screen that Bill and Ted raised Billie and Thea with an incredible amount of love and support - even if they weren't able to keep up with their daughters, they always valued them. Bill and Ted are equally as impressed with Billie and Thea's knowledge as Billie and Thea are impressed with their dads' performances. In a way, this puts them at a kind of crossroads when it comes to understanding each other. Bill and Ted are incredibly impressed with Billie and Thea's skill with musical theory, but aren't skilled enough at the subject to be able to engage with them on it directly. Billie and Thea are incredibly impressed with Bill and Ted's skill with musical instruments, but aren't skilled enough to be able to perform alongside them directly. The value of their respective niche is never undermined, but their understanding of how much they have to offer each other is stunted. I think it's sweet that they get a chance to fully come into themselves and their skills without having to have the drag of a 'proving the detractors Wrong' arc that would have taken away from Bill and Ted's characterization.

"i’m sorry i can’t get over the message of bill and ted 3 was “you save the world not with a mythically perfect piece of art but by celebrating your kids’ weirdness and creativity the way your own father never did with you and that love will spread across humanity through the things that they’ll create” like i’m fine i just gotta get choked up first" -@hgedits

I also can't deny that the song scene always gets me, without fail. The moment where Billie and Thea turn around and really notice the crowd that's gathered to watch them spool up the music. The moment where Bill and Ted finally join their daughters on stage, and there's a beat where they watch them conduct the band - dancing and having fun - and all four of the parents have such obvious awe and love for them that it makes me tear up every single time I watch it! I LOVE the moment when Bill and Ted's guitar solo gets cued up - the enthusiasm and joy on their faces as they start to play their favorite instrument, and Bill getting to have a moment where he exchanges an impressed nod with Jimmy Hendrix. When Ted crosses the whole stage to give high-fives to his whole family. Billie's excited-stiff enthusiastic rock hands as she dances to the song. The moment when the booth explodes in a flare of bright light in time with Bill and Ted's guitars - It's Beautific dude, I cannot get enough of this scene.

"It wasn't so much the song that made the difference" "It was everyone playing it together!" -- I LOVE THAT DUDE!!! That's such a good twist!

In conclusion, I love this movie with my whole, whole heart, and I could spend many more hours of time combing through this movie over and over again for all the things I love about it. Like how much I Love the Wedding song scene - how obvious it is that Bill and Ted LOVE making music with each other and love the music that they make even if no one else in the audience appreciates it Nearly as much. I also just Love the song and its title lol. I love little moments of characterization that separate Bill and Ted out a little bit more than they have been before - Bill rolling his eyes at Everything that annoys him and Ted having a serious streak of insecurity that threads through the whole film. I love Billie and Thea's characterization - moments like immediately after the wedding when Billie and Thea can be seen in the background of a shot playing around doing a conga line with a bunch of little kids, and the way Billie's body language looks in any given scene, and the way they play off of each other with so much ease. I love the scene where Hendrix and Mozart duke it out on their instruments in a little competition. I love the little moments of family characterization we get too - the goofy fun ways Ted and Billie greet each other, and how much pride Bill and Ted have in their daughters And how much pride Billie and Thea have in their dads, and the scene in Hell when Bill and Ted ask if Billie and Thea are alright and the girls say "Well, we're in Hell" and the dads say "Yeah but how are you" and Billie and Thea shrug and admit they're doing pretty good. I love how hard Bill and Ted try at the couples therapy even though the therapist clearly doesn't appreciate their efforts. I love the post-credits scene with the Wise Old! Bill and Ted having a jam session that clearly shows their skills haven't degraded with age at all, and the collection of fans rocking out for the credits themselves, and so on and so forth for forever! If you haven't watched this movie yet, what are you waiting for!?! It's completely excellent, and if you ask me, there's no possible way you could regret it!! Go watch it now!!!