Vintage Movies: “Wayne’s World”

MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.


Wayne’s World (1992, 96 minutes)

The first time I watched Wayne’s World, about 10 years ago, I expected nothing, and it was really funny. After viewing it again recently, I thought maybe I’d picked up a copy of Wayne’s World 3, by mistake. Not laugh one. The truth appears somewhere in-between. Oh, and there is no Wayne’s World 3.

It might help if you can accept Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) as a ’90s version of Jan & Dean, whose surf ‘n’ drag songs mirrored the dude-speak lingo and endless summer of a certain mid-’60s West Coast teenage subculture. Needless to say, this is not a comedy in the tradition of Laurel & Hardy or the Marx Brothers. It’s not even a watershed moment in adolescence, a la Superbad or American Graffiti.

Wayne’s World has the smudgy fingerprints of Hollywood hacks all over it. And the casting, oh my god, the casting! Wayne’s girlfriend Cassandra is way too beautiful, and Benjamin, the bad guy/TV exec, looks like somebody who might hit you with his tennis racquet. Wayne’s World has plenty of ho-hum moments that feel like Rock ‘N’ Roll High School before the Ramones turn everything upside-down.

Fortunately, Myers’ sweet portrayal of a long-haired kid with torn Levi’s and a black baseball cap pretty much saves the day here. “It will be mine,” Wayne warns his pals of a vintage Stratocaster languishing in a window of Cassell’s music store. Wayne and his knucklehead sidekick, Garth, are a pair of public-access TV hosts who recreate their “most excellent” existence from Wayne’s suburban Chicago basement before a loyal cult following. One segment features the inventor of the hair-sucker. Meant to perform a DIY haircut, the infernal machine might have removed Garth’s brain, instead (if he’d had one).

Every Friday night, Wayne, Garth and a few pals pile into a powder-blue hatchback and cruise down to their favorite “munchie post” while bellowing out the theatrical harmonies of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” As they pass a used car lot’s display of eight cars stacked on top of one another, like bills on a spike, they slam on the brakes to pick up a bud in distress. “Phil, you’re partied out, man,” says Wayne, walking him toward his friends. “What if he honks in the car?” asks Garth. “I’m giving you a no-honk guarantee,” replies Wayne.

“Hey, Wayne’s World—party!” screams a quartet of babes from daddy’s convertible in the parking lot of Stan Mikita’s Donuts.

“Four coffees and half a dozen crullers,” orders Wayne. “Don’t you guys ever get tired of ordering the same thing?” asks the waitress. “No!” they reply in unison. By now, of course, the boys have surely deserted their greasy-spoon past for something more trendy. Like blackened bay scallops with porcini mushrooms en croute, perhaps? Not!