Most triumphant: 29-year wait pays off
When the powers-that-be announce a sequel to a beloved movie, it's always a mix of emotions.
That initial burst of excitement is generally followed by a "don't stuff this up" - and when it's a sequel 29 years in the making, thoughts of dead horses and flogging flit through your mind.
So, it's with immense pleasure (and relief) to discover that Bill & Ted Face the Music is most triumphant.
Written by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon (who penned the first two films) and directed by Dean Parisot (Galaxy Quest), it's celebratory, feel good and really strikes the right tone and message for what's been a pretty heinous year.
If anything is going to make everyone feel better - even for 90 minutes - it's going to be the cheery, sincere faces of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter.
Reeves and Winter reunite to revive their iconic characters from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989) and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991), a couple of dimwitted but incredibly well-intentioned time-travelling besties.
The first movie saw them collect historical figures throughout time to help them ace an oral report (they did) while the second saw them battling evil robot versions of themselves and become friends and game night buddies with Death (William Sadler, who reprises his role in Face the Music).
Now, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted Logan are middle-aged and the musical super-stardom they achieved at the end of Bogus Journey has faded in the intervening 25 years, Wyld Stallyns' music having never brought on the utopia Rufus promised.
Their crowds are now the 40 people gathered for $2 taco nights or the guests at serial bride Missy's (Amy Stoch) wedding who are subjected to Ted's theremin playing.
Just as Ted is considering giving up music for good, an emissary from the future, Kelly (Kristen Schaal), arrives to tell them that Preston/Logan must perform a song they will write at exactly 7.17pm that day to not only unite the universe but also save reality, which has started to glitch.
So, they're off on another time-jumping odyssey, this time with the help of their daughters Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Thea (Samara Weaving), and some very notable musicians throughout time.
The Bill & Ted series was always kind of foolish and never took itself too seriously. The reason it has endured is that it is unfailingly charming even when its execution is a little rough around the edges.
These two boys, now men, have nothing but good intentions, and their loyalty to their friendship is truly something to be admired.
Reeves and Winters' performances may look simple - show up, act dumb - but there's a complexity to how they colour in these two characters so they're never exasperating or total idiots. It's not easy to play that uncynical, open-faced innocence. You're always on their side.
Winter, in particular, slips back into that role as if it's still 1991.
A pair of loveable goofs whose heyday was 1989 don't present as the most likely heroes, but that's the magic in Bill & Ted Face the Music - a balance of nostalgia and optimism for the present and future.
Unlike other pop cultural properties and nostalgic fandoms that trade only on "wasn't it great before?", Bill & Ted Face the Music doesn't try to cling onto the past as if the social progress of the past three decades was something to be feared.
That tinge of middle age anxiety present in Bill and Ted isn't a bitter case of two men who can't understand why the world doesn't appreciate their genius - instead, they know they've failed the world, and not the other way around.
It's a fine line and Bill & Ted Face the Music strides it with confidence. Where it ultimately ends up is an acknowledgment of not individual glory but a victory for the collective. It's only through inclusion does everybody win.
It really embodies Bill's catchphrase, "Be excellent to each other". Now, lets "party on, dudes!".
Bill & Ted Face the Music is in cinemas from Thursday, September 10 (excluding Victoria)
Share your movies and TV obsessions | @wenleima
Originally published as Most triumphant: 29-year wait pays off