"Wayne's World" and "Wayne's World 2" hearken back to a time when Mike Myers was still funny, Dana Carvey was still acting and Saturday Night Live sketch-based films were actually good.
Wayne's World/Wayne's World 2 (1992/93, Blu-ray)
Directors: Penelope Spheeris (WW), Stephen Surjik (WW2)
Producers: Lorne Michaels
Writers: Mike Myers (characters) Mike Myers (written by) and Bonnie Turner (written by) & Terry Turner (written by)
Features: * Commentary (both films) * Featurette (both films) * Trailer (both films)
Mike Myers ... Wayne Campbell
Dana Carvey ... Garth Algar
Rob Lowe ... Benjamin Kane
Tia Carrere ... Cassandra
Brian Doyle-Murray ... Noah Vanderhoff
Lara Flynn Boyle ... Stacy
Michael DeLuise ... Alan
Dan Bell ... Neil
Lee Tergesen ... Terry
Chris Farley ... Milton
Ralph Brown ... Del Preston
Christopher Walken ... Bobby Cahn
James Hong ... Jeff Wong
When "Wayne’s World" arrived in theaters back in February 1992, almost no one knew what to expect -- not even SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who was blissfully unaware that his little sketch-based film was about to become a pop culture revelation.
But that’s what "Wayne’s World" ended up becoming. Very quickly it catapulted to success, spawned an awesome sequel and began a sort of sketch-based film franchise (packed with other SNL favorites like Stuart Smalley, Pat, The Coneheads and many more), each film unfortunately worse than the next. But the first two outings, masterminded mostly by comedians Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, are classic comedies in almost every way.
"Wayne’s World" follows Wayne and Garth (Myers and Carey, respectively), two lowly grunge-era thirtysomethings who still live with their parents. Together, the two run a public access cable show where they discuss everything from hot babes to vacuum hair cutting machines. But things get sketchy once a major network executive (Rob Lowe) sees the show and plans on exploiting the duo. Meanwhile, Wayne falls for Cassandra (Tia Carrere), the lead singer of a rock band the executive also plans on exploiting -- and stealing away from Wayne.
Surprisingly, this sketch-based proved to be rather great. The gags are amusing -- rarely failing. The characters are funny (particularly Rob Lowe as the money-grubbing executive and Ed O’Neill as a crazy, potentially murderous café manager) and the story is quite original. Add it together and you’ve got the ingredients for a comedy classic.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A-
Film Value: B+
Wayne's World 2:
Like most cult classics, there's a moment where "Wayne's World 2" solidifies its classic status. For me, that moment comes late in the game. Shortly after speaking with a gas attendant (the late, great Charlton Heston, stepping in for a crappy no name actor who couldn't bring life to the role), Wayne heads to the First Presbyterian Church to stop his love, Cassandra (Tia Carrere), from marrying an unscrupulous record producer (played with zest by Christopher Walken).
Wayne rushes upstairs, teary-eyed, and pounds on the window screaming Cassandra's name at the top of his lungs, interrupting the ceremony. The bride lifts up her veil to see what the fuss is all about – it's not Cassandra. Wayne, embarrassed, apologizes profusely. Confused, he leaves the church. As he heads outside, he stops, looks over at the church sign and realizes he's at the Second Presbyterian Church. Just across the street is the First Presbyterian Church, the church where Cassandra is about to be married. The same sequence repeats with more success.
In a normal comedy sequel, we would never have seen such an off-the-wall gag. But that's what "Wayne's World 2" sets out to do – craft clever gags, irreverent humor and great wit around a funny, original story.
The film is pretty much a straight-shot sequel to the first film, which turned out to be a pretty big hit when it was released in 1992 (who knew a sketch-based film would be profitable). Not much has changed for Wayne and Garth, other than the fact that they have finally moved out of their parents' basements (into a sweet abandoned doll factory). Now that Wayne has found his true love and a nice home, he starts wondering what he's supposed to do with his life. After having a dream with Jim Morrison (and a weird naked Indian guy), who guides him in the right direction, Wayne sets out to put on a massive Woodstock-like concert in Illinois, called Waynestock.
Meanwhile, Garth finds himself in the clutches of a potentially dangerous femme fatale aptly named Honey Horne? (a cute precursor to Myers' "Austin Powers" series), flavorfully played by a scene-stealing Kim Basinger. He also finds himself oddly attracted to city worker Betty Jo (Olivia d'Abo), who shares similar interests with the quiet, quirky spaz.
There's rarely a scene without an original, clever gag. Whether it's Wayne combating Cassandra's father (the always capable James Hong) while dubbed, Garth's overly melodramatic romantic subplot (which is laced with lightning-fast, sharp quips) or Del Preston's (Ralph Brown) oddly compelling yet utterly boring stories about roadie life (which usually end with a set up for a much more compelling, darker story), "Wayne's World 2" is an awesome comedy, in some ways better than the first (though many story elements repeat themselves).
The picture wasn't afraid to take chances. It goes for deeper, funnier laughs this time out and often reaches for the most obscure joke in the rolodex of available gags. This isn't a film out to redo what's been done before. "Wayne's World 2" evolves the characters and teaches them new lessons, and makes us laugh along the way. Some of the struggles and conflicts are the same, but they are played more on-the-nose this time out (like Cassandra's wedding, which is turned into one of the film's best gags).
Despite antiquated music and clothing styles, "Wayne's World 2" hasn't really become dated just yet either, though I imagine one day it might. But perhaps it won't. There is a sort of universal appeal to the movie. It's layered with so many different gags and hilarious characters, it might just transcend the barriers and remain a clever slice of 90s Americana. In fact, it might play like a film shot today, just set in a different era.
For now though, "Wayne's World 2" hearkens back to a time when Mike Myers was still funny, Dana Carvey was still acting and "Saturday Night Live" sketch-based films were actually good. That time has sadly passed, but the classic humor of this film still remains.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: A-
Film Value: A-
Both films are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a dual-layered BD50 disc consuming 29 gigs of space. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from these transfers. After all, the films are nearly 20 years-old now.
Shockingly, these are great looking prints, marred by a few specks of intrusive dust and dirt here and there, but otherwise sharp, detailed and colorful. The encode on each film is pristine, with little to no flaws. Neither film boasts the best depth or shadows, but considering the low grade stock used to shoot the each picture, I'm honestly amazed this transfer looks as good as does. This is yet another fine catalog release from Paramount.
Audio choices are English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 with English, French and Spanish subtitles and English captions for the hearing impaired. I was impressed with the transfers, but I certainly didn't expect lightning to strike twice. Paramount delivers a surprisingly active TrueHD mix for each cult classic. Surrounds are mostly used to deliver crowd effects and spread out each film's thumping rock music, but it's so well balanced each film almost sounded like a fresh comedy made last year. Dialogue is crisp and clean and bass elements are well designed, breathing life into this 17-year-old franchise. Paramount knocks the A/V presentation out of the park.
Extras and Packaging:
Each film is a single-disc BD release. They come packed in a blue elite case featuring the film's original theatrical artwork. Extras have been ported over from the original DVD releases. Sadly, the BD ports miss the opportunity to include a few BD exclusives like a digital copy, new featurettes, documentaries and commentaries and a few BD-Live extras.
Fans do get a fairly informative commentary on each film (featuring Penelope Spheeris on the first film and Stephen Surjik on the second).
There's also a brief 23-minute featurette on the first film and a 14-minute featurette, each with retrospective interviews from the cast and crew. Even though these are short, they cover a surprising amount of ground.
"Wayne's World 1 and 2" might not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're a fan of goofy irreverent cult humor, this hilarious series will be a real treat. So will these BD releases. The transfer is awesome, the TrueHD mix is immersive and the special features, while thin, are fairly informative. What a great catalog release! Fans should definitely spend the extra cash and upgrade to the Blu-ray editions.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Recommendation: Worth owning
On BD: May 12, 2009.
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----R. L. Shaffer