|Director: Penelope Spheeris
|Screenplay: Mike Myers and Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner (based on characters created by Mike Myers)
|Stars: Mike Myers (Wayne Campbell), Dana Carvey (Garth Algar), Rob Lowe (Benjamin Oliver), Tia Carrere (Cassandra), Brian Doyle-Murray (Noah Vanderhoff), Lara Flynn Boyle (Stacy), Michael DeLuise (Alan), Dan Bell (Neil), Lee Tergesen (Terry), Kurt Fuller (Russell)
|MPAA Rating: PG-13
|Year of Release: 1992
When Wayne’s World was released on Valentine’s Day in 1992, its lovable slacker-metalhead duo Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) were already well ensconced in the annals of popular culture. Myers’s and Carvey’s laconic verbiage—“Party on!,” “Excellent!,” “As if!,” “We’re not worthy!,” “Way!”—had become indelible catchphrases since the characters first debuted in the very last sketch on Saturday Night Live in early 1989. Between that seemingly auspicious (and, in retrospect, politically incorrect) debut and the feature film, Wayne and Garth had appeared in 15 sketches, each of which depicted their fictional late-night cable access show “Wayne’s World,” which was broadcast on Cable 10 from the basement of Wayne’s parents’ house in Aurora, Illinois.
The Wayne’s World movie was directed by Penelope Spheeris, who had recently helmed the rock documentaries The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988), as well as music videos by Megadeth and Night Ranger. Written by Myers, who had originally created the Wayne character when he was an up-and-coming comedian in Canada, and veteran SNL scribes Bonnie Turner and Terry Turner, the film broke Wayne and Garth out of the basement and put them in the larger world (which consists of Aurora and a few side trips to Chicago), where they encounter smarmy network lothario Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe, in his first comedic role) who wants to buy their show and put it in primetime. This, of course, runs the risk of Wayne and Garth selling out, especially since they have to kowtow to their advertiser, an oblivious video arcade impresario named Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray). Along the way Wayne falls in love with Cassandra (Tia Carrere), the lead vocalist of an up-and-coming rock band (who also catches Benjamin’s eye) and shake the regular advances of his clingy ex-girlfriend, Stacy (Lara Flynn Boyle).
The plot, of course, is largely incidental and functions primarily as an excuse for the film’s various set-pieces, each of which plays as its own kind of self-contained sketch, ranging from Wayne, Garth, and their metalhead friends jamming out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Garth’s blue Gremlin, to Garth fantasizing about = performing Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” to his secret crush who works at the local diner. As John Hughes had done in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), the film discards the fourth wall, allowing Wayne to talk directly to the audience, which makes particular sense because viewers were used to him addressing them directly via his cable-access show. That also opened up the film to break out of anything resembling convention and engage in humorous flights of illogic, such as Wayne being able to speak near-perfect Mandarin Chinese to impress Cassandra and Wayne and Garth self-consciously shilling for various products while decrying corporate influence on their show, as well as pop culture parodies of everything from Laverne & Shirley, to Scooby-Doo. As with any episodic narrative, some of it works better than other parts, but it holds together largely because Myer and Carvey get us to care about Wayne and Garth by playing them as actual people with feelings and insecurities. This is particularly true of Garth, who is the more introverted and awkward of the two (Wayne is just as awkward, but his outgoing nature tends to disguise it).
Wayne’s World was the second feature film based on a Saturday Night Live skit following John Landis’s The Blues Brothers (1980), and even more so than that film, it was a major hit, ranking fifth at the box office that year and spawning a sequel the following year. It also had the unfortunate effect of spawning a series of SNL-based features over the next decade, none of which worked like Wayne’s World and none of which connected with audiences (several of them, including 1994’s It’s Pat and 1995’s Stuart Saves His Family were abysmal failures that lost millions of dollars). Wayne’s World succeeded where those films failed primarily because Myers was so successful in expanding the world created by the SNL skits, following the logic of the characters he created, but taking them out of the basement and giving them more depth and nuance without losing the traits that fans already loved. It seemed easy at the time, but that is a tight rope to walk, and Wayne’s World manages it impressively.
|Wayne’s World Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray
|English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surroundFrench Dolby Digital 2.0 stereoSpanish Dolby Digital 1.0 monaural
|Audio commentary by director Penelope Spheeris“Extreme Close-Up” featuretteTheatrical trailer
|Paramount Home Entertainment
|February 1, 2022
|This new steelbook edition of Wayne’s World is a repackaging of the 2009 Blu-ray release. Thus, the transfer seen here is about 13 years old, and it stands up fairly well. Wayne’s World is not known for its striking visuals, as it has a relatively flat look that expands substantially on the television sketches, but doesn’t push any boundaries (the cinematography is by Theo van de Sande, who had been shooting both documentary and feature films in the Netherlands since the mid-1970s, but had only recently starting lensing Hollywood films). The image is relatively clean and features good detail, although it certainly looks a tad soft, especially by today’s standards. Colors look good, although not particularly strong, and black levels and shadow detail get a tad mushy at times, but never to the point of distraction. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel surround soundtrack has some good separation and surround effects, especially during the musical sequences. The supplements all date back to the 2009 Blu-ray. There is an informative commentary track by director Penelope Spheeris, who has a generally laid-back vibe in discussing the film’s production and its various influences. There is also a 24-minute retrospective featurette “Extreme Close-Up,” which includes circa-2009 interviews with Spheeris, SNL producer Lorne Michaels, and stars Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, and Tia Carrere. Finally, the disc includes the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:06).
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