- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
t’s getting harder and harder to remember, but once upon a time, “Saturday Night Live” was a cultural force to be reckoned with – a late-night comedy juggernaut that, no matter how many times it was pronounced dead by critics and fans, managed to turn out a steady stream of hit recurring characters, all of whom seemed to have catchphrases ready to be absorbed into the lexicon. Though much maligned at the time, the casts of the ’86-’96 seasons were arguably the best at coming up with these characters and catchphrases – and none more popular than Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, the metal-loving basic cable hosts at the center of “Wayne’s World.”
With the semi-exceptions of “Bob Roberts” and “Mr. Saturday Night,” no films had been spun off from “SNL” characters since “The Blues Brothers” in 1980 – but by the early ‘90s, Wayne and Garth had achieved enough cultural ubiquity to attract cameos from Tom Hanks and Madonna in their sketches, and with high school students across America blurting out “schwing,” “we’re not worthy,” and “Party time! Excellent!” at regular intervals, Paramount knew it had a safe marketing bet on its hands. It paid off, too – with a worldwide gross over $180 million, “Wayne’s World” proved that plenty of people were willing to pay good money at the theater to see something they could watch for free at home. (It also kicked off a flood of shitty “SNL”-inspired movies, including “Coneheads,” “The Ladies Man,” and – shudder – “It’s Pat,” but that’s another story, for another time.)
For all its popularity, “Wayne’s World” was, like a lot of “SNL” sketches, really about nothing – and the movie was cut from the same blank cloth, constructing the flimsiest shred of plot to string together enough silly gags, pop culture references, and, yes, catchphrases from the sketches to pad out its slim 95-minute running time. But no one really expected a storyline, anyway; they went to see Wayne and Garth leave the basement and take their shtick into the type of situations that only a $20 million budget can get you, and it delivered. It was pretty damn funny, too, thanks to a script (co-written by Myers with Bonnie and Terry Turner) that included plenty of laughs for not only its stars, but a batch of supporting players that included Rob Lowe (in the first of many appearances as a comically slimy businessman) and Lara Flynn Boyle (as Wayne’s desperately psychotic ex-girlfriend Stacy).
“Wayne’s World” holds up surprisingly well today – better, at least, than the hairstyles and fashions on display in each of its scenes. Though many gags have aged poorly, such as the groan-inducing riff on Grey Poupon’s already-absurd ‘80s commercials, a lot of them are still laugh-out-loud funny, and the script keeps the jokes coming so swiftly that you usually don’t have time to dwell on the duds. (Alice Cooper’s mid-film concert performance is perhaps the funniest gag of all, even if it is unintentional.) For fans of broad comedy and repeated fourth-wall puncturing, it’s definitely worth owning.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
But is it worth picking up on Blu-ray at $29.99 MSRP? That’s another story. Though the audio and video have both been given upgrades (most noticeably the audio, which comes with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix), “Wayne’s World” isn’t the type of movie you buy to give your home theater a workout; to make it worth a pickup, any reissue needs to come with added content, and unless you count an HD version of the trailer, this bare-bones release doesn’t have anything you couldn’t get on the DVD. (For the record, those bonus features include a commentary track from director Penelope Spheeris and a featurette, entitled “Extreme Close-Up,” that gathers members of the cast and crew for retrospective interviews.) Even if you don’t already own the movie, there’s no reason to make the jump to Blu-ray with this title – not when you can get a new copy on DVD for less than $10. Better to wait for the inevitable 20th Anniversary Edition in a few years.