Monday, February 01, 2010

“She's a fox. In French she would be called "la renarde" and she would be hunted with only her cunning to protect her.”

There are very few Saturday Night Live sketches that have managed to successfully translate to the big screen and be well received. I mean sure, you’ve got The Blues Brothers, but then you’ve also got It’s Pat, The Ladies’ Man, and Blues Brothers 2000. So a critically and financially successful SNL movie is a rare bird indeed, and that’s how we get to 1992’s Wayne’s World.

So its based on an SNL skit where two slackers in Aurora, Illinois have a usually music-centered cable access show filmed in a basement. Now, for the movie part, we get a sleazy executive who takes notice of the show and its underground following, buys it, tries to commercialize it and turn the, uh, heroes I guess, into sellouts and steal Wayne’s girlfriend. No really, that’s pretty much it for the plot.

Wayne Campbell: Mike Myers does a great job in the movie role that made him. And why not, I say? I mean sure, he’s a caricature of early 90s teen slackers (and he was very obviously not a teen in this movie), but he’s a genre savvy and fun character who’s aware of his current limitations and ambitions to rise above them. Wayne’s not a revelatory character by any means, but he’s got more layers than a simple caricature.

Garth Algar: Dana Carvey is Wayne’s sidekick, a big-haired, really shy geek with the usual quirks. Kind of a standard sidekick character, but he does the job well for Wayne and makes a good comedic foil. Then he gets an awesome (and extremely cheesy) badass moment near the beginning where he takes on a bully in a bar.

Benjamin Kane: Rob Lowe is our Villain, a scheming, oily and standard issue evil corporate guy full of smarmy, insincere charm. That’s pretty much all there is to him. As Garth expertly puts it, “if he were an ice cream flavor, he’d be pralines and dick.”

Cassandra: Tia Carrere is Wayne’s love interest, a hot bassist and singer in a local rock band, she and Wayne hit it off and the Benjamin gets in the way as a real threat since he has the means to help promote her career.

Russel Finley: Kurt Fuller is Benjamin’s lackey who gets sent over to help produce Wayne’s World (the show within the movie, not the-oh never mind). Naturally, he’s the nice henchman and eventually sides with the heroes.

Noah Vanderhoff: Brian Doyle-Murray is the owner of a chain of arcades (yeah, remember those?) in the Chicago area whom Benjamin approaches with the show as a means of advertising. He really doesn’t give a damn about the show either way and isn’t much of a presence anyway. Has a wife played by Colleen Camp.

Stacy: Lara Flynn Boyle plays Wayne’s crazy ex-girlfriend who hasn’t accepted the fact that he broke up with her.

Penelope Spheeris keeps the movie going forward with many a nod and wink to the audience. Visually, its all pretty normal stuff, but the film’s got a quirky energy as it moves from gag to gag. Using the actual Aurora, IL as a location helped a lot too.

Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner & Terry Turner turn in a script that, while fairly fluffy on the surface, is loaded with lots of quotable moments, pop culture moments and absurdist touches that blur the line between the story, the fourth wall and other movies, like a part where out of nowhere, Wayne gets pulled over by a cop who’s played by Robert Patrick as the T-1000. It comes out of nowhere and is never mentioned again, but the movie is full of those kinds of gags.

Original score by J. Peter Robinson, which is completely and totally overshadowed by the rock soundtrack. You’ve got songs from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix an appearance by Alice Cooper and a lot more. Though the crowning musical moment has to be the drive in the Mirthmobile (a Gremlin) where the guys sing along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” If anything in the movie can be considered iconic, its that scene.

Not much to say about Wayne’s World. It’s a fun, quotable movie that doesn’t pretend to be more than simple popcorn fare, though it will check to see if you’re paying attention from time to time. With the passage of time, its also become something of a pretty effective time capsule of the early 90s. Definitely recommended.

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