Next month, the long-awaited (and even longer teased) third leg of the Bill & Ted franchise will be released. The trailer looks to deliver the goods, and in this crazy pandemic-affected year, it will be great to have some much-needed levity and escapism.
Part of what makes the series so enjoyable (aside from the chemistry of the leads) is the music. In the upcoming film, the famous duo is still trying to write the song that will unite the world. Some would have guessed that it was KISS’ “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II” which played in the finale to 1991’s Bogus Journey. But in the efforts of giving more screen time to our favorite time-traveling buddies, the response from the writers is a hearty “no way!”
The collection of songs gave the first film an added fun factor, and an edge in the heavier death-themed sequel, but the score always captured the sweetness of these two buddies (the 1989 film was arguably the start of the “Bromance” sub-genre). On that note, composing duties have since passed from David Newman to Mark Isham. That news might cause franchise fans to do a double take as director Dean Parisot worked with Newman on Galaxy Quest. Woah, is right. The fact that Newman would not return for the final installment of this trilogy is a head-scratcher.
Obviously, the passing of the baton brings a different sound to the narrative. It can have an identity but, as always, the music is in service of the story. In Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the score had a little help from six-string legend Steve Vai who put his stamp on the fan-favorite character Death (played by William Sadler). That choice was of the era, and looking back, his work was a very ‘90s sound.
Moving forward, Isham is playing it differently. Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted ”Theodore” Logan have grown up – they are now suburbanites and fathers – and the sound is about more than just them. Isham will not be using soloists or signature musicians; the soundscape will play it seriously, almost taking a step back to allow the humor to do its thing.
We recently spoke to the composer about other recent projects and he had just turned in some revisions for Face the Music. Isham couldn’t give anything away, but he’s very happy with the footage he’s seen.
“I think it’s hysterical. It makes me laugh. Every time I play it back, I’m laughing as some nuance.”
Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves bringing these titular characters back isn’t really a stretch, even after 25 years. They, in some ways, are their roles; the affable realism is why fans love these knuckleheads and the actors love their parts.
Filmmaking has changed a lot in a quarter century, and those first movies were pretty rough around the edges. Dean Parisot is a master of subtlety even when the plot and dialog can be outlandish (Galaxy Quest is certainly proof of that), and it’s a good bet we can expect something that has reverence for the characters without feeling old or stuck in a different era.
A project like this takes a number of people. The music supervisor brings in the songs and the film will have bands on camera. Additionally, like their famous “History report”, Bill & Ted will go back in history and bring back all sorts of famous characters. This time, they will be musicians. Only Isham and team know who, but they’re not giving anything away.
Isham’s score will “play it straight.” That’s a page he and other composers have pulled from the Elmer Bernstein book of scoring (Ghostbusters, Animal House) whereby, Isham tells us about how that plays in to this film.
“The straighter you play it, the funnier it is. Now in this film, when things go bad, the music takes it very seriously. And when things are very heroic, the music takes it even more seriously!”
Isham can certainly do heroic (see: Warrior), and we’re very much looking forward to this. Get ready to “Party On” with Bill & Ted this Summer on August 28, 2020.