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.
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. 1
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.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
Wayne's World rates:
Supplements: Trailer, Commentary by Penelope Spheeris, cast and crew interviews.
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: August 4, 2001
1. Savant can proudly say that Ms. Spheeris was my T.A. at UCLA film school, a
formality which involved one hallway conversation. Spheeris was a hot ticket even in 1974 - and my
one memory of her in Melnitz was listening as she set up some shooting arrangements over a 'borrowed' UCLA
telephone. The other memory was climbing to the top of Royce Hall to witness the Cambodia riots, with
hundreds of protesters facing off against Reagan's cops - and finding Penelope up there with an ad hoc
camera crew, filming the whole thing. We were chased out of the building by helmeted cops with billy
clubs ... (they were breaking arms here and there, we were told) and I don't know how she got away.
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2001 Glenn Erickson
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