The most memorable television I watched in my teens consisted primarily of those "not ready for prime time players" at Saturday Night Live. They had cutting edge music and hosts who could act. Not to mention they had talented writers, including Michael Myers and Dana Carvey. Carvey had the Church Lady and Myers had Dieter and Simon. And when they worked together to produce the Wayne's World sketch, I never thought I'd love a pair of naïve losers more.
This sketch, surprising, turned into a successful feature film. After all, adults who don't want to grow up can only be interesting and fun for a certain amount of time... say five minutes. But a full 90? Carvey had participated in a few failed attempts (not really his fault, poorly written material) like Opportunity Knocks and Myers was pretty much getting his start with this film. The last time Lorne Michaels had produced a successful film based off an SNL sketch was with The Blues Brothers, 12 years previously.
To top it off, Wayne's World was directed by Penelope Spheeris, who was infamous by that point for her classic observation of punk rock artists in Decline of Western Civilization (over ten years previously to the making of this film). Asking a director to switch from this documentary style to a comedy about two innocents in the Midwest with a cable access show was quite a leap of faith.
Despite these reasons for reservations, Wayne's World was far from disappointing. Is it an important movie to see? Heck no, but if you want something to watch on a rainy afternoon that will lighten your mood, this should do the trick. It's unclear how much creative input Spheeris had in the final product as the two stars of the film had also created the characters, but there are signs that this was an enjoyable team effort. For instance, the conversations that Wayne and Garth have directly with the camera are actually engaging. This device is normally annoying, but Spheeris has done this before and has an eye for concentrating on subjects one by one.
Films about small-timers who suddenly make their dent in society and receive instant fortune only to realize they rather appreciate their simple lives are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. The trick with Wayne's World that seems to cross age and gender in terms of enjoyment is that the characters are endearing. They lead humdrum lives, but they enjoy them enough that it's interesting to watch them from one scene to the next.
Wayne (Myers) is the leader of the pair. He makes all the decisions about where the show goes, drives the car when they hang out, and gets the best wise cracks. The show is also named after him. He's not the most attractive or intelligent of men, but he is charismatic and knows how to enjoy himself.
Garth (Carvey), his sidekick and best pal, keeps his mouth shut most of the time while he fantasizes about "Dream Girl" (Donna Dixon) in the donut shop. He allows himself to be led around by Wayne, including during their show, but he does get to reach his own shining moment when left to go his own way as success has spoiled and separated them, courtesy of smarmy television producer Benjamin (Rob Lowe).
Spheeris may not be the best female director Hollywood has to offer. It seems that she will do films like Wayne's World for the sheer value of a paycheck so she can concentrate on other observational material when she has saved her pennies. And I don't begrudge her this possible tendency. I'd probably do it myself if I were in her shoes.
(In fact, on the Wayne's World DVD commentary track, Spheeris says that she does do films like Wayne's World for the sheer value of a paycheck.) Among her other observations, 1) she thinks her jokes/gags/lines are really funny, 2) she put everyone she knows in some kind of role in the film, 3) she had to pander excrutiatingly to Myers, Carvey, and SNL head honcho Lorne Michaels during the production, and 4) she turned down Spinal Tap because she felt it would mock the heavy metal music she loved. Auspiciously for her, The Beverly Hillbillies movie would follow just one year after Wayne.
Run time: 94 mins
In Theaters: Friday 14th February 1992
Box Office Worldwide: $121.7M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Fresh: 40 Rotten: 7
IMDB: 7.0 / 10
Director: Penelope Spheeris
Producer: Lorne Michaels
Starring: Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell, Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, Rob Lowe as Benjamin Kane, Tia Carrere as Cassandra, Lara Flynn Boyle as Stacy, Chris Farley as Security Guard, Brian Doyle-Murray as Noah Vanderhoff, Donna Dixon as Dreamwoman, Meat Loaf as Tiny, Robert Patrick as Bad Cop / T-1000, Alice Cooper as Himself, Ed O'Neill as Glen, Colleen Camp as Mrs. Vanderhoff, Lee Tergesen as Terry, Kurt Fuller as Russell Finley