Bill & Ted Face the Music is a sequel over thirty years in the making. Many believed it would never happen. But now, the sci-fi comedy musical is about to hit select theaters and Drive-Ins this Friday, August 28. And it will also get a simultaneous release on PVOD for $25 a ticket. It’s been a long and winding road, but early on in its conception, it became clear that only one man could pull this off behind the director’s chair.
That man is Dean Parisot. And he knows sci-fi comedy. He is perhaps best known for his work on the 1999 comedy classic Galaxy Quest, starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and the late Alan Rickman. It is one of the defining films in this genre. If he couldn’t get Bill and Ted 3 right, no one could. The good news is, he stuck the landing.
He had some help. Bill and Ted Face the Music wouldn’t exist without onscreen parents Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. The same can be said about the creators of the franchise Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson. Dean Parisot came in as the fifth wheel, and is the glue that holds this sure to be classic together. Somehow, he managed to capture the spirit of the first two movies. This is a Bill and Ted movie through and through.
We caught up with Dean Parisot for a quick chat about the movie, and learned quite a few interesting things along the way. Bill and Ted face the Music is worth the wait for fans. And the filmmaker made sure he didn’t screw it up anywhere along the way.
Thank you so much for making a movie that does not disappoint. I am one of the biggest Bill and Ted fans I think you could ever find. I love the movie. So first of all…I would just say thank you for not screwing it up.
Dean Parisot: Thanks. That’s really sweet.
Maybe a couple of months ago, I saw an interview with Sean Penn. He was talking about the real guy that Jeff Spicoli was based on. He ran into him at a beach some 40 years later. Sean Penn talked about how the cadence of that character was still within this guy. But he had grown up. He wasn’t quite the surfer dude he remembered. You guys bring that same idea to this. How did you find where to go? Bill and Ted aren’t the cartoon characters you’d expect. You turn them into real human beings. But you also don’t lose what makes them Bill and Ted. It’s a great balance that is pulled off beautifully.
Dean Parisot: No, absolutely. I mean, the challenge of this was to make it contemporary. But also tell a story about two middle aged characters. Not teenagers. They would have changed, but they couldn’t completely change. They shouldn’t change enough so that you don’t respond to them as the original Bill and Ted. With all that, they have their optimism, and friendship. Their odd slang. I credit Ed, Chris, Keanu and Alex for that. We we all talked about it a lot. It’s just grounded in the reality of what would happen to them. What they would be at this moment in history. Rather than 29 years ago. But it really was Alex and Keanu. They worked hard at trying to create these characters, which they knew very well. And still play them as middle aged. And that was a challenge. I think they were absolutely perfect as the later versions.
There’s always been this conceit that Bill and Ted are two dudes, one brain. In the originals, they definitely have their own personalities. Here, you guys really push that, and create fully formed individuals for both Bill and Ted, which I thought was great. You pull it off without breaking the joke of who these two are.
Dean Parisot: They absolutely do pull it off. We talked about that a lot. Yeah.
Ted really isn’t happy with himself in any of the future scenarios. I thought that was one of the funniest and most kind of heartfelt moments in this movie. I think a lot of people can identify with that. Especially if they were in that scenario, where they would have to encounter themselves.
Dean Parisot: That, to me, is one of the funniest scenes. I love that. Where Ted now has to talk to himself as an old man. We talked a lot about Bill and Ted’s distinct qualities. And they sort of slightly reversed roles in the middle of the movie. Because it starts out with Ted being much more pessimistic and almost perturbed by what happened. Then it kind of flips over to the other side a little bit. It’s interesting, because I think Bill is basically the one who is always trying to make the best out of it. All right. And that’s the way we sort of looked at the new Bill and Ted as well
I thought the relationship Ted has with his father in this is very true. He mends what has been a sort of tumultuous relationship with his farther over the years. I see that in certain relationships now, removed 30 some years from when I first saw the movie in my own life. People reconciling their differences. It makes sense, and gives both of them a real character arc that many might not be expecting from a movie like Bill and Ted.
Dean Parisot: Yeah,That was an interesting thing. Having to juggle that? What the fans would know about these certain relationships versus what a regular moviegoer who hadn’t seen the first two would know. We sort of wanted Ted to utilize that history, the backstory research soup for people who had seen both previous movies. But also create a situation where you could fill in the blanks if you wanted. You can understand Ted and what has happened to him in his life. Especially when it comes to his father. That opening scene with with his dad, I think, pretty clearly sets up the same situation that they had 29 years ago with each other. But it was seen as a fun moment with Ted. It’s a cathartic moment that waits out time. That was fun, because it needed to happened, to help push the story and their relationship.
Bill and Ted’s Excellent has one of the most economic runtimes in the history of comedy movies. It’s a perfect 90 minutes. Bogus Journey follows that rule. And once again, you guys pull it off here. It’s all killer no filler. With a lot of these revival movies, the urge seems to be there to turn it into a two and a half hour movie. What kept you guys from indulging in that scenario?
Dean Parisot: This is not Lawrence of Arabia. This needs to be 90 minutes. The company doesn’t sustain itself like that. This is a different animal. Seinfeld once said he didn’t want to watch anything that was longer than 90 minutes. I don’t agree with that. I love certain works. Lawrence of Arabia is a grand adventure with all kinds of pathos and drama. But Bill and Ted?
It’s really precision filmmaking. Also, you’re the third director for the franchise. Yet all three of you guys have managed to keep the spirit of what this is alive.This is a Bill and Ted movie first and foremost.
Dean Parisot: It’s odd to come into something like this. That’s already been established, right? It’s a great thing for us. When you make a movie that’s original, you have all this freedom to create. This is a different assignment. In a way, you’re trying to hold on to the thing that makes them entertaining and appealing. While also creating something that’s a reboot. So it’s difficult. The Star Trek reboot, the first one with J. J. Abrams was really good. I thought it was a great example of somebody rebooting something with the spirit of the original, but it becomes comtemporized. In the spirit of that, we were trying to do the same thing.
In terms of the callbacks to the original, you guys nailed that aspect too. It doesn’t rely too much on nostalgia. There are plenty of Easter eggs. And some are amazing. But the balance is there. This is new and feels fresh, and in terms of the story, it is not just coasting on what came before it.
Dean Parisot: Yes. Well, you know, don’t be obvious. No, thanks. I appreciate that. It’s a hard thing to do it. You know, because mitigating your indulgence is so difficult.
At one point I’d heard Kurt Cobain was supposed to be one of the musicians that Billie and Thea, Bill and Ted’s daughters, bring back from the past. Did having Dave Grohl in the movie keep that from happening?
Dean Parisot: It went through a collection of choices. We’re an independent, low budget movie. So we couldn’t afford rights for things. So that was part of it. Also, eventually we’re looking for iconic but musically interesting choices that affected music. What were an example of the different aspects of music in the last 1000 years. So, of course, you know, jazz is the key because it’s all about improv. Jimi Hendrix is about experimenting sonically on rock and roll and Mozart is unquestionably a genius. Classically orchestral. Amazing. And Ling Long was the mythic Chinese inventor of music. And of course rhythm has existed since the beginning of time. Then you add Kid Cudi as the current pop star, and then put Death on bass. And then you have enough musical influences. Right?
Where was Jim Martin?
Dean Parisot: OK, well, maybe we couldn’t do everything? There’s a lot of people that are also not interested in being involed, so it’s hard. You’re trying to do good conceptually with what makes something work. And then the reality is you can get sued. But Hendrix, his estate was okay with it all. Go figure, you know?
When I heard the music…The song that saved the universe…I thought it was so great, because to me it sounds like Bill and Ted music. I felt like it had elements pulled from the other two soundtracks to make it sound that way. I talked to the creators of the franchise, and they didn’t know if that was true or not.
Dean Parisot: It’s not true. I struggled to try and get that piece of music later. We have a brilliant music supervisor, and we struggled to try and put a piece together. We didn’t succeed until afterward. So that music was collected as a collaboration, and a collection, and a Frankenstein of a lot of music that had been presented to us as a possibility.
It’s so amazing to hear, because it sounds like Bill and Ted music. If that makes sense?
Dean Parisot: Yes, it does. I mean, I think in searching out what it would be, it ends up being guitar centric. It also ends up having the influences of of their era. But then you’ve also got all those other people playing in that band. So, it’s kind of a mash up of everything. Really.
Station is not in the movie. Where was he? I’ve seen a theory start to spread that Kid Cudi is actually a manifestation of Station. Is that true?
Dean Parisot: That I’m not gonna answer. But we talked about station. We couldn’t fit Station in. So, on all of that, you’ll have to ask Ed and Chris. Is Kid Cudi Station? No, it’s not. It’s not. It has been this. Let’s put it this way. It wasn’t discussed, but we loved Kid Cudi. We love referencing Station. And that he’s the one that does it. So who knows?
Bill and Ted Face the Music will be in select theaters and Drive-Ins this Friday. It is also getting a simultaneous release on PVOD.
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