You know when a friend of yours has somehow not seen a film? You know, a film that they should have seen because it’s almost impossible to have not seen it. One of my friends was like that. She hadn’t seen Wayne’s World. Naturally I fixed that. Also, by some lovely piece of synergy, it resulted in the perfect companion piece to go with my last review. The film was Wayne’s World. That’s the film I’m on about. How does someone live, like, a bunch of years and never see Wayne’s World? Anyway, click the link below.
Wayne’s World is one of the best examples of a Saturday Night Live sketch being turned into a film. It’s also proof that a film will be made of almost anything on TV should a studio have enough money left lying around at any given moment. We didn’t get Saturday Night Live in the UK, but the Wayne’s World segments were cut together and put on TV right after Star Trek: The Next Generation… for some reason. I was a bit of a fan of those sketches back in the day. I hadn’t even seen the film yet. In fact, I didn’t see the first film until right after I saw the second one at the cinema. It was quite a roundabout and odd way of finding myself a fan of the film. There’s a period of time in my early teens that were largely spent watching films and anime constantly. Like, all evening and all of my days off. What I’m getting at is that Wayne’s World holds a strong nostalgic place for me. I’ve mentioned certain people or films shaping my sense of humour and Wayne’s World is certainly in there.
So this is where I normally say that despite the years passing Wayne’s World still feels as great to watch as it did back in the 90s. Well, that’s only partially true. As a film it is still an enjoyable and unique experience. The breaking of the fourth wall, the constant referential humour and the endless non sequiturs create an atmosphere that others imitate but don’t quite do in the same way. The humour does often miss the mark now though, and lord knows how it would play for anyone unaware of the pop culture imagery the jokes rely on you being familiar with. Some of the jokes still work well, such as the classic selling out series of puns. That joke is universal in it’s humour. But when they’re making reference to specific adverts that only existed in the early 90s then you have to accept that the jokes are going to fall flat for younger viewers. Bill & Ted generated its humour through its characters. Wayne’s World generates it’s humour by relying on knowledge of another thing for a large portion of its jokes. Not all though.
The humour that does work works fine. Wayne’s obsessive girlfriend Stacy (Lara Flynn-Boyle) is constantly funny in her pratfalls and desperate attempts at attentions. Garth’s (Dana Carvey) insecurity and odd, darker, moments play well for any audience as he represents the perennial second fiddle. The jokes regarding story structure, something Wayne’s World constantly plays with, especially towards the end, will always be good for a few laughs. I’m especially a fan of Chris Farley’s oddly knowledgable security guy. When the jokes are character focused the film absolutely works today.
Over the course of the film Wayne (Mike Myers) attempts to make a go of his basement based TV show’s new found success as slimy TV producer Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe) tries to turn the show into something it’s not in order to help advertise an arcade for one of his investors. Benjamin also has his eyes on Wayne’s new girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere). There’s really not a whole lot else to the story. It’s a threadbare premise upon which to hang a series of jokes and shenanigans. What’s quite nice to see is that there is a nicely played out friendship between Wayne and Garth, despite a lot of the attention being on Wayne. Also, Cassandra is represented as a strong willed woman that isn’t made out to be a prize despite the sub-plot involving Benjamin trying to steal her from Wayne. This is mostly down to how unlikely it would have been that she would have gone with him as most of this sub-plot plays out in Wayne’s paranoia over how much he’s failed in the latter half of the film.
The film’s music, and it’s cameos, are largely made up of various rock acts of the late 80s and early 90s. Meatloaf makes a quick appearance early on and Alice Cooper has a great scene (following a performance of Feed My Frankenstein) depicting a brilliantly idiosyncratic take on his persona. Tia Carrere sings vocals on all the songs Cassandra’s band, Crucial Taunt, performs, including a pretty awesome version of Ballroom Blitz. I’d argue that this was the film that got in into rock music as a kid. It’s a good mix of classic rock making up the films soundtrack and a not insignificant amount of its identity would be lost without it.
There’s a feeling running through Wayne’s World of this being a pure passion project for Myers. By which I mean he maybe looked at this as his one chance and put everything that makes up his personality into it. The music, the Hockey, the film and television references. They all elements of who Myers is worked into every aspect of the characters and the tone of the film. There’s a earnestness to this film that makes it feel like Myers is letting you see who he is more than almost any other film he’s made with, I’d argue, only So I Married An Axe Murderer showing a more personal side of himself. It’s weird to consider that there was a time when Myers was a comedian with a discernible identity to his humour and presentation and not just a cartoon mugging for the camera. That’s not a stab at Austin Powers by the way. Well, not the first film. Or even the second. Seriously, fuck Goldmember. And especially fuck The Love Guru. Not literally, of course.
As it stands Wayne’s World hasn’t aged amazingly well but what does still work still works well. There’s awkward moments where the script seems to allow a pause for laughter, which could be a holdover from the Saturday night Live origins. A lot of the jokes feel their age, but the characters and cameos help bring it all to a good humorous base level. Garth is awesome. The film is undoubtedly iconic. If you weren’t around when it came out you may be unaware of how many pop culture memes it spawned, such as saying “NOT” to dismiss an affirmative statement, which I still hear people doing from time to time unironically. Wayne’s World is a fine film for sure. It’s just one that is showing cracks at the seams. One day I’ll take a look at the sequel, which I’ve really not seen for some time, and was always a little more fond of. Even if it was just for Ralph Brown’s brilliant delivered Roadie story. I’d certainly say that if you’re at all fond of the 90s or interested in finding out what that old guy you know keeps going on about when he makes references to “Chia Pets” and “Arcades” you could do a lot worse than visiting this film.