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DVD SAVANT

Savant Short Review:

Wayne's World, Wayne's World 2

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

All in all, there haven't been very many good or even memorable movies made from skits directly transplanted from Saturday Night Live, even though a pretty high number of alumni have gone on to film careers, even stellar ones. The Wayne's World running skit wouldn't have seemed a likely springboard for a feature, but smart packaging and producing (mainly retaining Mike Myers not only as onscreen talent, but writer as well) resulted in a pair of superior comedies.


Wayne's World
Paramount
1992 / Color / 1:78 anamorphic 16:9 / 95m.
Starring Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Brian Doyle-Murray, Lara Flynn Boyle
Cinematography Theo Van de Sande
Production Designer Gregg Fonseca
Film Editor Malcolm Campbell
Original Music J. Peter Robinson, Geezer Butler, Alice Cooper, John Deacon, Jimi Hendrix, Tony Iommi, Brian May, Freddie Mercury, Ozzy Osbourne, Roger Taylor, Bill Ward
Writing credits Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner from characters by Mike Myers
Produced by Howard W. Koch Jr. & Lorne Michaels
Directed by Penelope Spheeris

Synopsis:

Aurora Illinois wannabe misfits Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) run a ragtag cable access show from the Campbell family basement. Fueled solely with their own demented suburban-loser wit, the show is a local success until promoter Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe) snags it as a marketing vehicle for a proprietor of arcade halls, Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray). Ben also tries to co-opt Mike's hot new girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere), a rock'n roller from Hong Kong. Kicked off his own show for dissing the sponsor, Wayne's only hope of keeping Benjamin from grabbing his girl is to interest legit record producer Frankie Sharp (Frank DiLeo) in her career.

Wayne's World succeeds because it comes at its subject from all sides, nailing its comedy targets square on and not losing an essential sense of sweetness. Myers and Carvey understand their characters well and keep them consistent. Wayne and Garth are well-intentioned suburban guys who didn't make it in school and are trying to have lives beyond their dead end fast-food jobs. They're too ambitious to be losers, but their dreams are all based on infantile obsessions with rock musicians like Alice Cooper, who makes a nice personal appearance. Garth suffers more obviously from a case of ingrown self-esteem, but Wayne too hides his personal sense of worthlessness behind an energetic flood of affectations and buzz-phrases. Typically, they consistently react to humiliating circumstances with cheerful grins and poses meant to deflect the pain ... the key to their place in the universe is their abject 'we're not worthy' abasement before any celebrity who crosses their path. In short, they're neither perfect nor cruel, and come off as completely loveable.

Director Penelope Spheeris has done a creditble job keeping up the spirit of the piece, moving to comedy features after a career mostly in rock-oriented docus. Retaining the spirit of the original is what has happened best here, along with the constant flood of extraneous gags, like silly dream sequences, product-placement satire, and Wayne and Garth addressing the camera directly.

It's the basic truth of the character setup that persists ... Garth and Wayne remind us not only of amusing friends in school, but ourselves. Who hasn't driven in a car, singing like an idiot to your favorite song, but feeling like a million dollars 'cause you're with friends and having a great time?

Some inspired casting helps considerably. Tia Carrere is a forthright and uncomplicated love interest. Rob Lowe's particularly slimy villain plays off his real-life bad boy image, more than anything particularly evil he does in the film. Chris Farley does a nice bit as an exposition-loaded security guard. Faces like Ione Skye, Donna Dixon, and Meat Loaf pop up, and Robert Patrick provides a nice sting as a motorcycle cop, in a deft reference to Terminator 2.


Wayne's World 2
Paramount
1993 / Color / 1:78 anamorphic 16:9 / 95m.
Starring Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Lee Tergesen, Dan Bell, Tia Carrere
Cinematography Francis Kenny
Production Designer Gregg Fonseca
Film Editor Malcolm Campbell
Original Music Carter Burwell
Writing credits Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner from characters by Mike Myers
Produced by Howard W. Koch Jr. & Lorne Michaels
Directed by Stephen Surjik

Synopsis:

A year later in their saga, Wayne and Garth are now living in loft space instead of at home with their parents, but their cable show is still a local anomaly, and Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra is now being courted by an even shadier promoter, Bobby (Christopher Walken). Wayne is contacted in his dreams by Jim Morrison (Michael A. Nickles) who tells him to promote a big rock festival in Aurora, with huge name acts like Aerosmith. Following Morrison's cryptic instructions, Wayne and Garth take a trip to England to collect legendary roadie Del Preston (Ralph Brown), who also has been receiving telepathic messages from the late lead singer of the Doors. They hold a fund raiser at a Communist-themed nightclub, but all looks grim as Wayne alienates both Cassandra and Garth (who's seduced by hot-chick Honey Horneé (Kim Basinger) to kill her husband), and is afraid nobody will buy a ticket to their self-styled "WayneStock".

With the characters established and the basic 'world' already delineated, one would expect Wayne's World 2 to just be more of the same, but some real thought was actually put into their second outing. The plot is more complicated this time around, but keeps the focus on the two central personalities, putting Myers through some interesting paces with a Twin Peaks-like hallucination (a half-naked Indian leads the sleeping Myers to see Jim Morrison), and turning sexpot Kim Basinger loose on the utterly defenseless Garth. The satire of commercial Rock 'n Roll is even more accurate, with our heroes confronted by moronic fans, and saddled with a burned-out 'rock legend' who has a great superstar scrapbook but tends toward senility. Christopher Walken's character is nicely underplayed, the gags come faster and mostly as fresh. Even when the material is obvious (the Village People routine) the enthusiasm makes it enjoyable. The film even drags Charlton Heston in for a particularly hilarious gag. Only at the very end did the fun sag a bit, when the movie parodies of The Graduate and Thelma & Louise fail to build into anything. But who's perfect?

Although Savant has little use for the infantile poo-poo humor level of most of Myers' Austin Powers, he finds both Wayne's World movies the equivalent of Bob Hope or Red Skelton vehicles. This was one favorite of my son's that I didn't have to pretend to like.


Paramount Home Video's DVDs of Wayne's World and Wayne's World 2 are technically topnotch, with bright pictures and punchy audio. The audio commentaries are okay, but not standouts. I sampled Stephen Surjik's track on the sequel in half a dozen places, and everything he had to say was pretty predictable, like 'Mike really wanted the Kung-Fu parody', or 'Chuck Heston was a nice guy.' The best gag on the disk is the clever menu setup, which mimics a cable channel guide. A bunch of provocative titles like Fun with Fire slip out of our reach, but we are allowed to select cable programs like The Brady Bunch, an exercise program, or an Elvis movie, all available or soon to be available from Paramount home video, naturally. Actual little clips pop up when we make our choice ... very cute. Paramount seems to have acquired all or part of the Republic library, as can be seen by a quick snippet of a Nyoka serial with a jungle girl menaced by a giant crawfish! (Yes, those are the kinds of associations Savant makes!).

So to help keep it all straight, Wayne's World = Alice Cooper. Wayne's World 2 = Aerosmith.


On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Wayne's World rates:
Movie:Very Good
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: Trailer, Commentary by Penelope Spheeris, cast and crew interviews.
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: August 4, 2001

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Wayne's World 2 rates:
Movie: Very Good
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: Trailer, commentary by Stephen Surjik, cast and crew interviews.
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: August 4, 2001



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