[Contains red liquorice dispensers and SPOILERS!!!]
The first footage I saw of Wayne’s World (1992) was a couple of random clips edited into the promo video for Tia Carrere’s cover of “The Ballroom Blitz”, which appeared on a late-night heavy metal show. I can’t honestly remember how much I enjoyed the flick itself as a teenager, but revisiting it again as an adult I was surprised by how few actual jokes there are. And I don’t mean jokes-that-I-personally-find-funny… I mean jokes of any kind, at all. Yes, there are plenty memorable moments of hilarity and some smart set-pieces… but there are also a significant number of dead spots where the laughs drop out, and the scenes just drag along. I don’t think the plot really hangs together that well, either… characters are too busy stepping outside the “reality” of the movie to lay the dramatic or emotional foundations that could add more weight or spark to the gags… so we’re left with faint suggestions of conflict, inexplicably heel-turns, and three equally unsatisfying endings. Apparently the whole thing was shot in just 34 days, bashed out between seasons of Saturday Night Live, so there probably wasn’t a lot of time to really polish and tweak the script… and certainly no question of re-shoots, once the two stars were back in the SNL studio! In fact, Dana Carvey supposedly rushed directly from his final shot on the movie to the airport, so he could fly back to start rehearsing in New York, and didn’t even have time to remove his costume! Also, the alleged charm of the title character has since been retroactively undermined by the revelation that if Mike Myers were an ice-cream flavour, he’d most likely be pralines-and-dick.
That said, he was open-minded enough to specifically write his female lead and romantic interest as Asian, and Carrere fits the role perfectly… giggling at his silly antics, kicking a disrespectful club-goer’s ass, and wailing her lungs out on stage… all while looking mighty fine in some questionable retro “rock chick” outfits! Schwing! It’s a damn shame she wasn’t a rocker in real life, because her vocals here are great, and I would have loved to hear more tracks from her in that vein. Sadly, her character (‘Cassandra Wong’) doesn’t get many actual jokes to sell, so the funniest female in the cast is probably Lara Flynn Boyle, who plays Wayne’s “psycho” ex-girlfriend, ‘Stacy’, and steals every scene she’s in. I also have to give a shout-out to Colleen Camp, who has a cameo as ‘Mrs. Vanderhoff’, the slightly dim trophy wife of the amusement arcade entrepreneur (played by Brian Doyle-Murray) who ends up sponsoring the eponymous show, after Wayne and Garth sell out. And an honourable mention has to go to Ed O’Neill, whose disturbingly intense donut-shop-owner remains one of the most memorable characters in the movie.
Wayne’s World proved to be so popular it was followed by a (far less successful) sequel the following year. Cassandra’s story in Wayne’s World 2 is mostly a retread of the first movie, with Wayne getting jealous of her spending so much time with a smarmy Suit (Christopher Walken, subbing for Rob Lowe), then dumping her for no good reason, before realising how stupid he’s been and making an overblown gesture to “win” her back. Although Carrere was very keen to return to her breakout role, she actually gets sod all to do, besides stand idly by while various men fight over her… and they don’t even give her a musical number this time around, dammit! I find it a little hard to believe that the Cassandra we met in the first movie would agree to marry Walken’s character so quickly, no matter how good a guitarist/dancer he was… or to make her father happy… or for the sake of a laboured parody of The Graduate! But, of course, we’ll never know what she was thinking when she accepted the (off-screen) proposal, because she’s never given the opportunity to explain her decision. Feh!
Meanwhile, all of the other women who appear in the movie are easily attainable (and conspicuously blonde) sex objects: Kim Basinger plays ‘Honey Hornée’, a femme fatale who tries to seduce Garth into killing her husband… Drew Barrymore plays ‘Bjergen Kjergen’, a Swedish secretary who offers to sleep with Wayne after he reveals he once inadvertently made himself ill while studying her country for a school project… Heather Locklear appears as ‘Herself’ at a backstage after-party… and Olivia d’Abo plays ‘Betty Jo’, a bewigged and bespectacled female-version of Garth. None of them have any particularly funny scenes or lines, as far as I can recall… but, as noted before, it’s summer here in the UK right now, and my brain doesn’t work so well in warm weather. My fave character in this flick would have to be ‘Del Preston’, the burned-out roadie played by Ralph Brown… who looks surprisingly fit with the long wig and leathers working for him. Then again, he did give me a muffin once, so I’m kinda biased.
Fun fact: Both movies were co-written with Terry and Bonnie Turner, of 3rd Rock From The Sun and The Brady Bunch Movie fame.