|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Monday, 09 July 2001|
Okay, so I’m socially backward. I admit it – I have somehow until now failed to catch up with the delightful lunacy that is "Wayne’s World." The new DVD release from Paramount Home Entertainment has rectified this state of affairs, so that "Schwing!", "Not" and "We're not worthy!" are now parts of my vocabulary.
If you too have somehow missed "Wayne’s World," it stands as a testament to the wisdom of sometimes turning "Saturday Night Live" sketches into feature films. (There are many other movies that can be cited as examples to the contrary.) Director Penelope Spheeris and writers Mike Myers and Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner, working from characters Myers first made famous on "SNL," have created a wonderfully silly comedy that plays with the film form in unexpected ways while somehow managing to be on-target in its affectionate depiction of young headbangers. Characters address the camera, then chide other characters for doing likewise, spoof all kinds of pop culture and have slapstick collisions, yet Wayne Campbell (Myers) and his best bud Garth Elgar (Dana Carvey) seem like people who might live just down the block.
Wayne and Garth are amiable 20somethings living in a Chicago suburb. Wayne still lives in his parents’ basement, where he tapes his weekly cable access show, "Wayne’s World." "Wayne’s World" comes to the attention of a smarmy network executive (Rob Lowe), who sees lucrative possibilities. Wayne and Garth are delighted to be paid for doing what they love, but "corporate compromise" is not a concept that has ever blipped on Wayne’s radar, so both sides are in for a somewhat rude awakening, even as Wayne falls for rising rock diva Cassandra (Tia Carrere).
"Wayne’s World" is blithe, sunny and shrewd, an intoxicating combination. The movie happily sends itself up at every opportunity – check out Wayne’s impassioned rant against product placement on his show (as he picks up every labeled object in sight). This "World" also has some authentic metal gods popping up here and there, with Meat Loaf putting in a cameo appearance and Alice Cooper turning up on stage to rock his showman’s heart out in Chapter 15. Then again, director Spheeris has been famed for two decades as the auteur behind the "Decline and Fall of Western Civilization" documentaries about the metal rock scene, so it should be no surprise that she knows how to showcase the appeal of the genre.
The DVD gets off to an entertaining start, with an opening menu that momentarily confuses, then amuses (by all means, click on the menu that seem like mere decoration – you’ll get a chuckle out of what they provide). Spheeris’ director commentary is situated solidly in the center channel, with the rest of the soundtrack pushed softly into the mains and rears for this feature. Her observations are educational, if occasionally a little over-congratulatory (we can see for ourselves the movie was a good idea – talk to us more about the intricacies of making it).
The sound mix is pleasant without being extraordinarily dynamic. In Chapter 2’s "Bohemian Rhapsody," the original Queen track and the voices of our heroes singing along in the car complement one another and blend without obliterating each other, but the 5.1 doesn’t quite situate us in the moving vehicle. Chapters 6 and 17 are much more successful at placing the listener in the action, with intensely realistic plane vibration and directional rear to main sound movement as jets fly low overhead. The Cooper performance has a beguiling musical kick in the rears that brings us into the theatre with him briefly before settling into a handsome but less lifelike presentation.
"Wayne’s World" embodies the holy trinity of movie comedy: it is truly funny, truly clever and truly likable. If you haven’t seen it yet, see it now. If you’ve seen it before, try watching it again – your mood will probably improve.