Title: Wayne’s WorldDirector: Penelope Spheeris
Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe, Lara Flynn Boyle, Kurt Fuller, Brian Doyle-Murray, Ed O’Neil, Meat Loaf, Chris Farley, Robert Patrick, Alice Cooper
Plot: Eternal slackers and rock fans Wayne and Garth run their public access TV show out of Wayne’s parent’s basement. Things however look up for the pair when television producer Benjamin Oliver buys the rights to the show launching them into the mainstream unaware that Benjamin wants to exploit the show’s popularity for himself.
Review: One of the more important films of my early film watching years and one which in retrospect I can now see just how much of an impact it had on me especially in terms of my musical tastes and even though I might not have grown my hair long or start a crappy cover band it did spark a love of Alice Cooper, while at the same time giving us a rock out to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” so iconic that Queen fans (and pretty much everyone else) has been imitating it since to the point where I can no longer listen to that darn song.
Adapted from the “Saturday Night Live” sketch this film also marked Mike Myer’s feature film debut and to date it remains the highest grossing of the films adapted from sketches on the show. At the same time this remains one of the best known films by director Penelope Spheeris who’s trilogy of documentaries looking at the alt. music scene through three key eras, the second of which covering the late 80’s heavy metal scene almost making her too perfect a director for the film and perhaps in some ways giving her a chance to make up for passing up on “This Is Spinal Tap”.
The plotting of the film is incredibly straightforward ensuring that it never gets in the way of the humour, with the sleazy suit trying to rip off our good natured rock fans being an easy story to identify with. At the same time the world which the film is set in is completely believable with time being given to establish memorable locations such as the “Gasworks” rock club and “Stan Mikita’s Donuts” run by the fantastically dark Glen (Ed O’Neil) whose obsession with murder and death is never fully explained, yet O’Neil unquestionably steals every scene he’s in with his unflinchingly flat tone.
While the film is largely carried by both Myers and Carvey, despite Myers originally creating it as a vehicle for himself, the pair unquestionably share a strong onscreen chemistry, further helped by their characters despite their shared interests are the complete opposite personality wise to each other enabling them to pull off fun scenes on their own aswell as together. At the same time Tia Carrere is thankfully given more to do as Cassandra than just being the feisty rock chick love interest for Wayne and while her role would be further developed in the sequel, here she is always fun when she is around without taking the focus away from our hapless duo. It’s equally worth noting that in the film she does all her own singing, much like Carvey actually doing the drum solo we see in the film which is impressive to say the least.
Rob Lowe is equally on great form here, reviving his career with this performance which had stalled thanks to his sex tape scandal. Here though he brings the right combination of sleaze and charm to roll to make it work, so that even though we know he’s trying to screw them over we can’t help like them to be charmed by his personality and while perhaps he might not get the comeuppance he ultimately deserves thanks to being lost in the multiple ending mix, he still provides the right kind of foe to oppose Wayne and Garth.
Switching constantly in style between straightforward comedy to “Airplane” style surreal-ness such as Garth’s Mad scientist scene, with both Wayne and Garth frequently breaking the forth wall to address the audience and share their thoughts on what’s happening around them. It’s kind of a bold move to try and blend these styles and yet somehow Spheeris manages to make Myer’s script (co-written with former Saturday Night Live staff writers Bonnie and Terry Turner) which seemingly was written to maximise the humour in every scene regardless of it requires changing the comedic style. The smoothness of these comedic transitions being only the more noticeable when compared to the sequel whose production Spheeris belived she was blocked from directing due to the clashes with Myer’s she had over the final cut of this film.
Watching the film now is almost like looking at a snapshot of the 90’s which it fully embraces and wears proudly on its sleve much like its unashamed love of the rock music scene it represents with not only cameos by both Meat Loaf and Alice Cooper but also features a memorable soundtrack packed with classic tracks from the likes of Soundgarden, Eric Clapton, Black Sabbath and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Some might see the film being so set in its period as something of a negative but really its no different than the likes of overrated trash like “The Breakfast Club” which somehow always avoid such detractions. Most important though is the genuine love for this scene that everyone involved especially both Mike Myers and Dana Carvey clearly has so that it doesn’t come off as some kind of sneering satire. Yes some of the characters are dumb or slackers but it’s never seen as being due to the fact that they are rock fans.
While some of the catchphrases might have been long since burnt out the quick plotting and rapid fire humour makes this still an incredibly fresh comedy aswell as providing a fun snapshot of early 90’s pop culture.