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Wayne’s World (1992)

by on 2012/05/25

“We hope you found it entertaining, whimsical, and yet relevant, with an underlying revisionist conceit that belied the film’s emotional attachments to the subject matter.”

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AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, and Van Halen. Let’s say I’m not exactly their biggest fan.

On the other hand, Wayne Campbell is a fan, so why do I enjoy his work so much? Perhaps because — despite metalhead leanings — he is clearly a geek, and even a little familiar.

Played by the son of Scarborough, Ontario, Mike Myers (So I Married an Axe Murderer), the star of Wayne’s World (the movie) is also the star of Wayne’s World (the TV show). Together with best friend Garth Algar (Dana Carvey), he presides over a late night cable access series alongside the esteemed company of Chia Pet and Clapper ads.

Enter Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe), a smarmy corporate flak looking to exploit their subcultish viewers. Throughout various ups and downs, Wayne navigates his way past donut shops, hockey games, instrument stores, and into the arms of a rocker named Cassandra (Tia Carrere).

As much as I want to think of Wayne as a loser, he’s too good-natured to find significant fault. Childlike, honest, and self-aware, he speaks directly through the screen on occasion. He establishes a confidential rapport which brings him into our good graces. While I may not share his exact hopes and dreams, I did want to see him succeed.

Sure, the plot is a thing of little substance, but it exists to support all manner of fun cameos, pop culture references, and many production tricks. Guests include Lara Flynn Boyle, Alice Cooper, Donna Dixon, Brian Doyle-Murray, Chris Farley, Carmen Filpi, Meat Loaf, Ed O’Neill, Robert Patrick, and Ione Skye.

And if some of the references are more dated than the actors, they’re amusing, given you’re old enough to remember Grey Poupon ads, James Bond, Laverne & Shirley, Mission: Impossible, Scanners, Scooby-Doo, Terminator 2, and The Twilight Zone.

As for tricks to engage the audience, we get the proverbial, er, kitsch in synch: dream sequences and fantasies, fourth wall breaking, high-speed footage, montages, audio/visual overlays, and post-modernism applied to technique itself.

One scene parodies product placement by taking just such placement to extremes. In another, the camera pans away when Wayne gets too self-indulgent. Narrative devices are recognized aloud by the characters involved: “Wow. Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? It seemed extraneous at the time.” Finally, the structure evokes Clue with its multiple-choice resolutions.

Oddly, I find I enjoy this piece now, though I didn’t when it first hit theatres. Then I was an aspiring musician, and none of the guys I played with cared for this comedy. The truth is, in retrospect, it’s eerily familiar, a Bizarro World capsule of sorts.

Easily dismissed as a clutch of old jokes — “…not!”, “Schwing!” and “We’re not worthy!” among others — it should merit no more than three stars. Yet I keep coming back again and again. It’s High Fidelity by way of UHF, and that’s nothing less than geek catnip. To paraphrase a recurring line: Wayne’s World, I love you, man!

No, I mean it, I really love you.

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Rated PG

94 minutes

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