Wayne’s World

  • Title:  Wayne’s World
  • Director:  Penelope Spheeris
  • Date:  1992
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Rob Lowe, Tia Carrere
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“I’ve had plenty of ‘joe jobs’ – nothing I’d call a career. Let me put it this way – I have an extensive collection of name tags and hair nets.” – Wayne Campbell

“Sometimes, I wish I could boldly go where no man’s gone before, but I’ll probably stay in Aurora.” – Garth

“Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? Seemed extraneous at the time.” – Wayne

Wayne’s World  felt very much like a 1980s movie to me when I re-watched it, so I was surprised to see the copyright date as actually 1992. The story is about two best friends, Wayne and Garth, who live in Aurora, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The two have a local public access TV show that they film in Wayne’s basement called, “Wayne’s World”, and the film was developed from the Wayne’s World sketches on Saturday Night Live. However, in the film, the clips of Wayne and Garth doing their Wayne’s World show are the least successful parts of the film (they are very dated, and often fall flat).

The strength of the film, the part that shines, and still works, is that it’s a buddy film. But whereas most “buddy films” are cop films – Wayne’s World is about these two guys, good friends, who are into heavy metal music, and not taking life too seriously. The film also continuously breaks the fourth wall, as usually Wayne, addresses the audience directly. Garth, normally the quieter and shyer of the two – also, occasionally, addresses the audience. The film even features the occasional subtitle that comments on the action, such as “Oscar Clip”. The constant breaking of the fourth wall gives the film a surreal quality and an avant-garde edge. But that doesn’t mean the film is overly serious. Quite the opposite – it’s very, very funny. It’s also filled with clips of great music, and a lot of singing (almost exclusively cover versions of popular music).

The basic storyline is that Wayne and Garth have this cable access show, Wayne’s World, that they put together every week, more-or-less as a hobby, though Wayne, at least, would like to do Wayne’s World as a career. One night, Benjamin Oliver, an unsavory ad exec is flipping channels and he sees the show. He thinks it’s the perfect vehicle for his biggest client, the owner of a chain of video arcades called Noah’s Arcade. He wants to move the show to a cable network, have Noah’s Arcade sponsor it, and use it as a vehicle for, essentially, half an hour’s worth of advertising for the arcade. Benjamin’s plot works in that he gets Wayne and Garth to agree to his contract, though when Wayne gets on set he blows up and refuses to do product placement (in a hilarious scene in which at least half a dozen different products are prominently placed and used). Benjamin meanwhile sows discontent between Wayne and Garth, and gets Wayne to think his girlfriend is cheating on him. But it all works out in the end (well, in the third alternate ending).

But the film’s point isn’t really the plot. The characters, Wayne and Garth, and their close friendship – a friendship that is threatened but recovers – is at the heart of the film. Also, the idea of personal happiness being more important than money or what others call success is a subtext of the film. Yet, at it’s heart the film is just very funny – and enjoyable to watch. Wayne and Garth’s personal optimism and infectiously happy outlooks make the film enjoyable to watch. The frequent music, covers, and sing-alongs add to the fun.

Overall, one of the oddest things about the film might just be the frequent anachronisms. The entire set-up, the “Wayne’s World” cable access show is something that barely exists now. However, a real-life Wayne and Garth these days could easily do their own show on youTube, or create a regular podcast. Wayne and his new girlfriend, Cassandra talk on landline phones that include a cord. Benjamin’s client owns coin-operated video arcades. The famous, and awesome, sing-along to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” starts with Wayne putting a cassette tape into the car’s tape deck (though later Wayne, at least, upgrades to an external CD drive). The film doesn’t so much look dated as have moments of, “Oh, yeah, that’s how we used to do things.” Though, it’s Garth who mostly correctly describes how he will bounce the special “Wayne’s World” episode featuring Cassandra’s performance off several communications satellites (which Garth mentions by name/number) – today such dialogue would be simplified to “bounced off several satellites”) to Mr. Sharpe’s limo to get her a  record contract. Even the three endings reference older films, such as Clue. It felt at times, like a window into the past.

Overall, I found Wayne’s World to be enjoyable to re-watch, mostly because it was just so happy. Wayne and Garth’s attitude towards women notwithstanding (Garth continuously talks about women as “babes” but can’t get up the courage to talk to the pretty blonde he keeps spotting in their neighborhood.) It some ways the film was also like an updated American Graffiti in that it portrays a time and a place, though it’s less serious in content and tone. Still, it’s fun, just plain fun.

NOTE:  I normally don’t mention DVD menus, but this one with the cable access opening is funny. Also, there are a number of hidden features on the menu (which looks like a cable TV on-screen guide).

Recommendation:  See it
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Next Film:  When Harry Met Sally…

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Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me

  • Title:  Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me
  • Director:  Jay Roach
  • Date:  1999
  • Studio:  New Line (et al)
  • Genre:  Comedy
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Formats:  NTSC, R1
  • Cast:  Mike Myers, Heather Graham, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Rob Lowe, Seth Green, Verne Troyer

“You know what’s remarkable?  How much the English countryside looks in no way like Southern California.” — Austin Powers (as he and Felicity escape in her car to the “English Countryside” which is obviously Southern California).

Not as good as the first Austin Powers film, The Spy Who Shagged Me still delivers a good story.  When the film came out I was actually surprised that they got away with that particular title, considering what “shag” is British slang for — and that it’s actually quite rude. I also wondered if the title was changed in the UK. However, the title is also a parody of  the Roger Moore Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

The film opens with a crawl, also spoken, that’s a parody of Star WarsStar Wars will again be referenced later in the movie. Then we have what is, I think, the biggest mistake in terms of story-telling of the film — Vanessa (Elizabeth Hurley) turns out to be a Fembot, who tries to kill Austin and then blows up. This leaves Austin single again, but it also ruins the romantic sub-plot of the first film, and any chance of having a pair of married spies, instead of horny, randy super-spies. In short, I really missed Vanessa in this film.

Dr Evil returns in 1999, develops a time machine in his secret lair at Starbucks HQ in Seattle, and goes back in time to steal Austin’s mojo from his frozen body at the Ministry of Defense with the help of Fat Bastard (also played by Myers). Austin follows in a time-traveling VW Bug convertible, and meets Felicity Shagwell, CIA agent, at a club where she stops one of Dr. Evil’s assassins who’s out to kill Austin. Leaving the club they are attacked by another assassin, Mustafa (Will Farrell) from the first film, who also fails.

Felicity is a feminine Austin, with a “woman” symbol necklace and who’s wearing a crushed velvet outfit when they meet. She’s American, and works for the CIA, but is still very much the swinging spy.  She even admits she became a spy because of her admiration for Austin.

The film then slows down quite a bit, as Austin begins to fall for Felicity, but does nothing because of his missing mojo. There’s a long sequence of Austin being the fashion photographer and taking pictures of Felicity, and their falling for each other, but being unable to act on their feelings. Felicity then, well, um, “shags” Fat Bastard, to get close enough to plant a homing beacon on him. In a round about way, this leads to Austin and Felicity finding Dr. Evil’s hidden island volcano liar. Felicity and Austin go there, but eventually end up on the moon. Because this time around Dr. Evil’s plan is to use a giant laser on the moon to destroy cities on Earth, thus making the moon a “Death Star” (and a string of references to Star Wars, and the Bond film, Moonraker). Scott Evil also travels back in time and pokes fun at his father who keeps making future cultural references that no one around him gets.

And Dr. Evil and Frau Farbissia end up having an affair.

A little extra time travel is used in the climax on the moon. But overall, the plot is a bit overly complicated and too many references are thrown in that don’t really add to the film. There is some verbal wordplay and innuendo, but somehow the second helping of Austin Powers just seems like the same old thing.  I missed Mimi Rogers and Elizabeth Hurley very much, and Heather Graham seemed like a poor substitute (not really the actress’s fault). I wasn’t overly impressed with Mini-Me who seemed a cruel joke played out far too long, and the plot of this film seems to meander a bit too much.

However, there were points that worked. Mike Myers still does a very sympathetic Austin. Michael York does a brilliant job as Basil Exposition. At the end, Myers, as Fat Bastard, delivers an excellent, surprisingly sympathetic soliloquy about the pains of his condition. Heather Graham isn’t awful, she just isn’t Elizabeth Hurley and I found her character a bit annoying.

The filming and color of the 1960s were great also. And the opening sequence (under the credits) was brilliant. I especially liked the parody of synchronized swimming films. The psychedelic scene breaks (Laugh-In style) are still present. Oh, and not to be forgotten – the music in this film is also excellent and I would really love a soundtrack.

Remember to watch the credits all the way through to see a couple of deleted scenes that are actually quite, quite fun.

  • Recommendation:  See It!  But not as much of  a classic comedy/parody as the first film.
  • Rating: 4 out of  5 Stars
  • Next Film:  Austin Powers in Goldmember