Argumentative married couple Greg Bruce and Zanna Gillespie review Bill and Ted Face the Music
Genuine laughs: 0
Sympathy laughs: 0
Intermarital laughs: 0
Greg has a blanket zero tolerance policy for sequels, franchises, adaptations, basically any film concept that is derived from anything other than spontaneous creative inspiration. I've spent an inordinate amount of time arguing that there's nothing inherently wrong with sequels, that if an interesting world and/or complex thought-provoking characters have been created, there's no reason more than one engaging story can't be told. Unfortunately Bill and Ted Face the Music has not aided my argument.
I can't really figure out who this movie is for. The original films are aimed at teens but what teen wants to watch two men their dad's age bounce around idiotically, using a parlance that ceased being funny before they were born? So then it's a nostalgia film but who in their 50s finds an ageing stoner knucklehead entertaining? That's just sad.
There are a couple of attempts to remedy this problem. One is introducing Bill and Ted's daughters as the young "heroes" of the film but there's an issue with that - they're not very funny. Their characters are replicas of their dads but in female form. They don't actually have their own characters. At best, that's lazy scriptwriting.
Which leads me to another gripe: the wives. Actors Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are mid-50s, as are the women who played their wives in the original films. But the actresses cast as their wives this time round are 40 and 43. Apparently in Hollywood, as Amy Schumer brilliantly pointed out, women over 45 are officially unf***able and can no longer play love interests. Wonderful.
At the heart of the film is a lame message about unity - an antidote to Trump's politics of division. That's sweet but the movie is so lacking in any character development or exploration of interpersonal relationships, the message barely lands. For something to be actually funny, it has to be rooted in human truth. This film is set up perfectly to do just that: Bill and Ted's marriages are failing, they've spent the last 25 years consumed by the prophecy they will write a song to save humanity and perhaps their 24-year-old daughters might have something to say about that. But nothing comes of any of it. I could put aside the thinness of the premise if the film was LOL-worthy but sadly there are only a handful of real laughs.
When Greg and I enter into another inevitable debate over whether or not he would enjoy Greta Gerwig's remake of Little Women, I'm pretty sure he'll be using this film to bolster his argument that sequels are sewage.
Earlier this year, our marriage was riven by an astonishingly intense argument over the Greta Gerwig remake of Little Women. Zanna had gone to watch it with friends. Upon her return, I eviscerated it. That drove her crazy because I hadn't seen it and she felt my opinion was therefore invalid.
"No matter how 'good' the movie," I told her, "it's a remake of a remake of a remake of a book and can therefore never be anything but derivative." I said I was so offended by Hollywood's endless cynical recycling of previously successful product that I would never again pay to watch a movie that is a remake, a sequel or otherwise derivative.
On the way home from the limp but not unexpected disappointment of the third instalment of the Bill and Ted franchise, for which we got free tickets, I asked Zanna if she thought seeing movies on the big screen made a difference. I can't remember her answer but she followed up by saying she would have liked to have seen the movie Parasite on the big screen. To that, I said: "Would you like to have seen a parasite on the big screen? Just like a mosquito flying past the screen, backlit?"
That was funny - and I knew it was funny - but she didn't laugh, didn't smile, didn't even make a noise. I went on: "What about something bigger than a mosquito? What about a bat?" Again nothing. I began fumbling for somewhere to go with this.
She said: "There's nowhere to go with this." She added: "Just stop it."
I said: "That's pretty harsh."
She said: "Well sometimes you go down these humour rabbit holes and there's nowhere for me to go."
I said, "You could go with me."
She said: "Yeah, but it's not that easy."
I said: "You could decide to say something back. You could decide to laugh."
She said: "Is laughing something you decide to do?"
I said: "Yes, you can give somebody a little chuckle. That's something you do if you like somebody. I give you sympathy laughs all the time."
She said "Well, that's pretty harsh. That's one of the harshest things you've ever said to me."
That was wrong though. Sympathy laughter is anchored in affection, which is a feeling I had long had for Bill and Ted. While watching their most recent movie, however, the best I could offer them was silence.
Bill and Ted Face the Music is in cinemas now.