Following in the long line of movies based on "Saturday Night Live" skits, "Wayne’s World" arrived in theaters in 1992 and was an immediate hit. While most films to come out of the "SNL" stable have been forgettable, if not flat-out bad, something about "Wayne’s World" appealed even to those who had never seen the skit on late-night television. As Mike Myers himself states in an interview included on the DVD, Wayne Campbell was a character that he had been playing since his high school days and it’s his endearingly loopy rendition of the prototypical slacker with an attitude that made the skits, as well as the film, so funny.
Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) is the host of his own cable access show, "Wayne’s World," that he and his best bud Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) broadcast from the basement of Wayne’s parents’ home in Aurora, Illinois. Blissfully filling their days with rock and roll, street hockey, and cruisin’ in the AMC Pacer mirth-mobile, the boys are taken aback when hot-shot TV producer Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) (listed as Benjamin Oliver in the credits, go figure) offers to invest in their show. Blinded by the money, Wayne and Garth make a deal with the devil and before they know it their little program has been co-opted into a promotional vehicle for Noah’s Arcades. Meanwhile, Wayne begins lusting after the feisty lead singer and bass player for local heavy metal band Crucial Taunt, Cassandra (Tia Carrere), while Garth continues to pine for the girl of his dreams, the waitress (Donna Dixon) at their favorite hangout, Stan Mikita’s Donut Shop. Can Wayne and Garth regain control of their TV show and keep the devious Benjamin from stealing both "Wayne’s World" and Wayne’s girl?
"Wayne’s World" is just plain fun from beginning to end. The film never takes itself seriously for a moment -- as the constant pithy asides to the camera attest. After playing these same roles numerous times on "SNL," Mike Myers and Dana Carvey had Wayne and Garth down pat and expanding what was typically a five minute skit into a full-length feature film really allowed them to flesh out these already lovable freaks. The rest of the cast is equally solid with Rob Lowe probably having the most difficult job of playing every scene straight-faced -- it couldn’t have been easy.
"Wayne’s World" is very clearly Mike Myers’s creation but director Penelope Spheeris deserves some credit for keeping things moving along at a brisk pace. Her previous work on the 1988 documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years" also served her well as she not only understands the type of people Wayne and Garth are meant to represent, she also is able to treat them with warmth and a humor that is never mean-spirited. Plus, we have Ms. Spheeris to thank for one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, the "Bohemian Rhapsody" sing-along, which Mike Myers initially wanted to remove as he thought that it was not at all funny.
"Wayne’s World" is presented in anamorphic widescreen preserving the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of the original theatrical release. The transfer here is wonderful and truly captures the look and feel of the film. The image is finely detailed with only a few intentionally soft shots thrown in for effect. Colors are well-saturated and solid without ever appearing to be overbearing. Black levels are better than I would have expected given the low-budget filming conditions and the many nighttime scenes come across clearly as a result. There is some slight film grain present but other than that I could find no glaring problems with the picture.
Audio comes in an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack as well as English and French Dolby 2.0 Surround mixes. The low-budget nature of the production is clearly evident in the audio and even this new 5.1 mix can’t add fidelity that wasn’t there to begin with. Dynamic range is decent but there is very little in the way of deep bass. Surround usage kicks in for the musical numbers and an occasional sound effect but, for the most part, the audio is front and center. It’s only during the frequent musical passages that the soundtrack really comes alive but dialogue is always crystal clear which, as in the case of a comedy such as this, is of the utmost importance. All in all it’s a nice, clear soundtrack -- just don’t expect it to stand out in any way.
The "Wayne’s World" DVD also gets some special edition treatment from Paramount. First up is a running commentary with director Penelope Spheeris that is not terribly engaging or informative. She’s clearly having fun revisiting the film and her sense of humor is at times infectious but she never really adds anything of interest. A film like this really needs comments from the primary actors rather than the director and it’s a real shame that they were unable or unwilling to participate.
But Mike Myers and Dana Carvey (as well as the other primary cast members, the director, and producer Lorne Michaels) do show up in the interview snippets that make up the "Extreme Close-Up" featurette. This 24-minute tribute to "Wayne’s World" is quite fun and all of the participants have their own funny recollections of their time on the set.
Rounding out the extras are the film’s theatrical trailer as well as some seriously off-the-wall trailers for other Paramount Home Video products that can be accessed through the main menu. Done up in the style of a cable television channel guide, many of the "programs" featured on the menu grid can be selected and the short snippets shown are quite hilarious.
The track record for "Saturday Night Live" inspired films is checkered at best. Such movies as "A Night at the Roxbury" and "Stuart Saves His Family" illustrate the fact that what may seem funny for a few minutes late on a Saturday night usually doesn’t seem quite so funny for a full 90-minute feature. But there are exceptions to every rule and "Wayne’s World" is clearly one of the best "SNL" films yet produced. Perhaps the fact that Wayne and Garth are so firmly anchored in the reality of the suburban, dead-beat, metal-head experience makes them more three-dimensional than the other one-joke characters popular on the show.
In any case, "Wayne’s World" is a whole lot of fun and Paramount has seen fit to give this minor classic an excellent DVD release. Video and audio quality are true to the original film and can’t really be faulted for being less stunning than what’s found on more contemporary blockbusters. The bonus features are of varying quality but it’s nice to see them present and most fans will want to take at least a cursory look. "Wayne’s World" gets a very strong recommendation and no self-respecting fan should be without this DVD. Now is that a Scooby-Doo or a happy ending?
Oh, and be sure to stick around for the end credits after the movie.