Wayne's World

(1992) ** 1/2 Pg-13
95 min. Paramount Pictures. Directors: Penelope Spheeris, Allan Graf. Cast: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere, Brian Doyle-Murray.

/content/films/3400/1.jpgTwo of Saturday Night Live's most popular characters emerged in the early nineties: Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) are two buddies from the Chicago 'burbs who put on a show each week from the basement of Wayne's parents' house, where he continues to live. "Wayne's World"—which appears on Aurora, Illinois public access Cable 10—discusses babes and pop culture from the perspective of two over-grown middle-schoolers. Wisely smelling a profit, SNL producer Lorne Michaels packaged a film version of the "Wayne's World" sketches, written by Mike Myers and Bonnie & Terry Turner and directed by Penelope Spheeris.

The shrewd Spheeris was a shrewd choice on Michaels' part. Having directed the punk rock and heavy metal documentaries The Decline of Western Civilization and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years, Spheeris had a Rolling Stone-ready rock cachet and her finger on the pulse of the film's target audience of suburban male youth. With Myers feeling his oats as a comedy star, Wayne's World turned out to be an irresistibly silly (and masterfully marketed) option for audiences. The movie version dutifully replays the characters' dozen catch phrases, from "Party on! Excellent!" to the erection-indicating "Schwing!", and the screen's wider canvas allowed the characters' universe to expand, as to fave hangout Stan Mikita's Donut Shop (Ed O'Neill plays the shop's creepy-amiable propreitor).

The self-consciously flimsy plot is nicely excused by having Myers and Carvey talk and mug to the camera even when not filming their show. Seeing potential for profitable exploitation, TV executive Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) offers to buy "Wayne's World" as a vehicle for Noah's Arcade proprietor Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle Murray) to advertise his business with weekly interviews. When Wayne doesn't play along, the deal implodes. Meanwhile, Wayne woos gorgeous babe Cassandra (Tia Carerre), who provides lead vocals and guitar for the band Crucial Taunt. Both plotlines threaten to drive a wedge between the overconfident Wayne and shy Garth. Also on hand: Lara Flynn Boyle as Wayne's comically hot stalker-ex and Chris Farley in a postmodern cameo. Speaking of postmodernism, the film's funniest scene traipses cheerfully into subtitled Cantonese.

Myers makes Carvey look subtle...not, but the two have a good chemistry on screen, and the humorously larger-than-life characters are of a piece with the cartoonish approach of the whole movie. The defining scene is a head-banging singalong to "Bohemian Rhapsody" in Garth's car. While there's little that's inherently funny about the scene—like, say, jokes—there's something conceptually funny and generally pleasing about it, in the pure enjoyment of the song and the sharing of the characters' enjoyment of it. And it played well in the TV spots. As with much of Myers' work, the willfully juvenile Wayne's World is a deeply personal reflection of his own pop-cultural obsessions and childhood joys and fears. Wayne and Garth play street hockey ("Car!"), Alice Cooper makes a special appearance by Alice Cooper, Wayne lusts after a '64 Fender Stratocaster,and the boys recreate the opening sequence of Laverne and Shirley. Party on, dudes.

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Aspect ratios: 1.85:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Street date: 5/12/2009

Distributor: Paramount Home Video

Wayne's World gets a significant visual and aural upgrade in its Blu-ray debut. Handily besting the previous DVD offerings, the picture quality features a surprisingly well-balanced look: strong contrast with deep blacks and a general crispness free of any distracting digital artifacts. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix comes to life in the musical sequences, which offer admirable wraparound immersion.

The extras reflect earlier releases, with a thoughtful commentary by director Penelope Spheeris, who dishes a bit about the movie's challenging production conditions.

"Extreme Close-Up" (23:14, SD) collates interviews with Lorne Michaels, Penelope Spheeris, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, and Tia Carrere, while giving a glimpse behind the scenes.

Lastly, we get the film's "Theatrical Trailer" (2:06, HD).

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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