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Paramount Studios presents
Stacy: Happy anniversary, Wayne.
DVD ReviewAlthough it's been almost a decade since the release of Wayne's World, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Being a bit too young to stay up every Saturday night to see the original sketch, I found myself fascinated by the image of two slackers rising up off their couch towards us, the couch itself rising up and away from planet Earth. And, of course, I can't forget the immortal tagline, "You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll hurl." For a time, I felt inundated with Wayne's World mania. The only cure, of course, was to see it. And to this day, it's one of my favorite movies. I still reference it in daily conversation, and while occasionally I must explain my allusion, I usually receive nods of comprehension. You see, Wayne's World didn't only affect me, it affected my entire generation. And while many other people have seen it, only a certain few remember being of a certain age where Wayne's World was something magical, a clarion call to a group of youths who wanted to do nothing more than sit back and party.
The story is simple: Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers), and his friend Garth (Dana Carvey), twenty-something slackers, have their own public access TV show called Wayne's World. TV exec Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe) sees the show and decides to exploit them for his own greedy purposes. At first Wayne and Garth are ecstatic about being paid to do their show, but soon reality sets in, and they have to decide whether it's more important to have money or their integrity. Add to the mix that Benjamin comes onto Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere) under the guise of making a music video for her band, and you have your plot.
The plot may be simple, but it's effective. Then again, it often takes a backseat to hilarious detours. Remember the famous Bohemian Rhapsody sequence? That has nothing to do with the plot, but it's hilarious. The movie plays with and parodies other icons such as Laverne and Shirley and the whole genre of heavy metal and the headbangers who listen to it. But it does so with such a self-referential, tongue-in-cheek style that it becomes a pop culture icon in its own right. Of course, it helps that the jokes are downright hilarious. For a whole new generation of people weaned on Myer's Austin Powers character, they might not realize that Wayne's World really introduced Mike Myers to the movie world. Looking back, it's easy to see that Myers would become a comedian of the finest quality, but in 1992, he was afraid he couldn't cut it.
Other people sometimes forget that the movie is actually a spin-off from a Saturday Night Live sketch. And to the film's credit, it never feels like it's a skit taken to extreme proportions. Thanks to the brilliant script, the movie has an identity that is separate from its TV counterpart. The biggest difference is that in a three-minute skit, you pack in as money jokes as possible before it's over. In a movie, the characters have to have more personality, displaying a range of emotions that aren't necessary on TV. That is where so many other SNL spin-offs fail. Under close scrutiny, most characters don't have a range of emotions. Movies like Superstar, A Night At The Roxbury, and It's Pat! have flat characters that can't support a feature-length film. Luckily, Wayne and Garth are too of the most fully fleshed characters in the SNL canon. Wayne is your average everyman, not really exceptional in any way. All he wants to do is have fun. Anyone can relate to him. Garth is actually the better character of the two. He's this little dorky man that is uncomfortable around women, yet is a whiz with technology and can talk to his dog. He always says the wrong thing and then immediately feels embarrassed. He's hilarious and touching to watch.
I think it's an acknowledgement to Myers and Carvey that I refer to the characters as entities separate from the actors playing them. They do such wonderful jobs of making the characters believable that you don't think about two guys named Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. Carvey especially does a good job of sublimating his personality to Garth's. And it's hard to believe that the same man plays Wayne Campbell and Austin Powers. Rob Lowe is good as Benjamin; I think of him as a smarmy guy anyway, so he fits the role easily. Tia Carrere is great as Cassandra. I didn't know this, but Tia had to learn to speak with an accent for the part; it sounds so natural that you just assume it's her real accent. Wayne's other friends also carve out separate identities for themselves. I had no trouble remembering who was who, which is sometimes a problem among supporting characters. Ed O'Neill steals every scene he's in. His exquisitely deadpan performance as Glen gives us some of the most memorable scenes of all. Alice Cooper is not a bad actor, which shouldn't be surprising, considering his entire stage performance is an act. Be on the lookout for Meatloaf's small cameo; see if you can find him.
Perhaps most importantly, the film has a lot of heart. The intention of everyone involved was to make the audience feel lighter, and it works. I know a lot of comedies that don't lift you up in any way. Humor and joy aren't necessarily part of the same package, but thankfully Spheeris and company take the time to make sure everything is happy. If there's violence, it's not serious. If there's a downer scene, a happier scene will follow almost immediately. The movie works not just as a funny film, but also as a pick me up.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
Image Transfer Review: I remember watching Wayne's World over and over on a VHS tape. Considering the difference in picture quality between VHS and DVD, I'd think that the DVD would look much better. But, in fact, it doesn't. Perhaps that's a testament to the quality of the VHS tape, which had no grain or dust. The fact is that this transfer doesn't look any more vibrant. It looks pallid. True, there is also no grain or dust, but nothing jumps out. You'd think that for such a happy movie, the color palette would be brighter. I don't mean Wayne would be wearing a neon pink t-shirt, but just that the overall tone of the picture would be brighter.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: I'm extremely disappointed with the sound mix. True, Wayne's World isn't a blockbuster action dynamo, but the rears are actively used twice in the film: once when Garth falls off his chair after looking at the dream girl, and once more at the Alice Cooper concert. There's seemingly no low bass end, and sometimes the dialogue sounded like it was out of place. Listen to a bad sound mix from a 1970s movie to see what I mean about the dialogue at times. It's not always that way, but it is noticeable. You'd think that with so much great music, the movie would at least use the surrounds for that, but no. It's the three front speakers only. I think I may have to become a sound mixer just to make good DVD sound mixes. If you want something done right, do it yourself, I say.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 23 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Layers Switch: 00h:49m:14s
Extras Review: While not completely loaded with extras, this disc does have some informative ones. The first is Extreme Close Up, a 23-minute series of interviews. Here we learn the genesis of the Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar characters, how Tia Carrere got cast, how Rob Lowe had to learn Cantonese, and more. While it does suffer a bit from "talking head" syndrome, overall the pros in the documentary outweigh the cons.
One problem with Extreme Close Up is that the information Penelope Spheeris offers is retold in the director's commentary. Of course, the director's commentary has tons more information, so it's still worth watching. Spheeris is very open about the film, and other things. She even tells us how she rejected directing This Is Spinal Tap because she had too much reverence for heavy metal! I really enjoyed Spherris' commentary, and I'm sure you will, too.
I also have to mention the menus. They're great! Certainly the most imaginative menus next to the Requiem For A Dream DVD. At times they do seem a bit too slow for their own good, but their charm negates such shortcomings. Keep it tuned to channel 09!
Extras Grade: B
Final CommentsI LOVE this movie. It's good. It's really good. True, the transfer isn't the best it could be, and the sound mix is downright bad, but that won't stop me from recommending this. What I really hope is that this review inspires thousands upon thousands of people to watch or rewatch Wayne's World, realizing that in it you can find the keys to happiness. Hey, it could happen. Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.
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