Some movies are like perfect time capsules of a moment. It could be their fashion, their music, their cast, anything which exemplifies the time in which it was made. For children of the ‘70s and ‘80s, that film is Penelope Spheeris’s (Black Sheep) classic comedy Wayne’s World (1992) featuring Mike Meyers (Shrek) and Dana Carvey (The Master of Disguise) as the Saturday Night Live characters they created in their first feature film. A ridiculously meta film, which, on paper, shouldn’t work at all, it continues to garner genuine laughs even 30 years later. Some of them you had to be there for, but we’ll get into that. For now, though, if the original cinematic adventure of Wayne and Garth gets you humming “Feed My Frankenstein” or “Ballroom Blitz” and you’ve been looking for an excuse to upgrade your copy, Paramount Home Entertainment released a special steelbook edition to commemorate this special anniversary.
Best friends Wayne Campbell (Meyers) and Garth Algar (Carvey) run a public access entertainment program out of their basement, dreaming of the day they can get paid to have fun like this. Opportunity strikes when sleazy marketing executive Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) comes across their show while trying to come up with ideas for an arcade-owning client, Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray). The boys agree to sign on the dotted line, but their excitement leads to the terrible discovery that sometimes you shouldn’t always get what you want.
Ahead of this review, I hadn’t watched Wayne’s World in years. I could tell you about favorite moments, I could quote lines, and I could giggle about its absurdly hilarious choose your own adventure-style ending, all things which speak to how memorable the film as a whole is. And I’m not even talking about the “Bohemian Rhapsody” segment, a scene which played as a music video on MTV for the longest time and created a resurgence of interest in the band Queen in early ‘90s U.S.A. and serving as the reason Meyers appears in the 2018 film Bohemian Rhapsody as a fake character with a line referencing the song’s impossible immortality. (The line and delivery by Meyers is meant to be self-referential, a wink at the audience.) I’m talking about the montage of product placement jokes during a conversation about selling out, I’m talking about the recreation of the Laverne & Shirley television program opening, and I’m talking about street hockey. Each of these things are hilarious in their own right, right in line with the relative absurdity of the premise. What’s fascinating, though, is to consider how potentially unfunny these same moments may be when I show the film to my kids in a few years. Will they laugh at the Nuprin joke? Will they understand the L&S reference? If they haven’t seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), will the scene featuring Robert Patrick as the T-1000 still be funny or will it just be a weird non-sequitur. It had never occurred to me, as an audience member, how very anchored in time Wayne’s World is, even if the skits the film originated from are more open (one doesn’t really need to have a connection to Aerosmith or Tom Hanks, the jokes are centered on adolescence/young adulthood and also musical fandom; knowing merely helps).
That said, there is a certain amount of cringe that comes from looking back. Nothing which prevents new audiences with different socio-culture understandings from having fun with the film, but doesn’t look so great in retrospect. The first is “Schwing!;” the calling-card of a horny young adult attempting to identify someone they’re attracted to. Perhaps thanks to the general warmth and kindness of the characters, the phrase was welcomed by audience members, but it’s a clear objectification of, in the case of one moment within the film, a scantily clad Claudia Schiffer. When it’s used upon Wayne seeing Tia Carrere’s (True Lies) Cassandra for the first time, it’s clearly an homage to the Looney Tunes classic over-reaction, so it’s seen as harmless and silly, especially when we get to meet Cassandra and learn of her “take no shit” attitude. The character has agency and, therefore, Wayne is presented as a non-threat. But in the Schiffer sequence, while obviously not still a threat, he’s using his program to objectify a woman, public figure or not. All an adolescent watching may care about is the pretty person on screen, but that doesn’t make the context any less awkward 30 years later. There’s also the presentation of Lara Flynn Boyle’s (Dead Poet’s Society) Stacy, a character played for laughs as an obsessive ex. The script does take a moment within a language-barrier-based joke (Wayne demonstrated that he learned Cantonese to speak with Cassandra in her native language) to highlight that he partially blames himself for Stacy’s behavior, but he can’t seem to figure out how to get her to understand things are over. This helps to show Wayne isn’t a thoughtless or malicious individual as it relates to Stacy, as does the fact he’s clearly been trying to get her to understand its over for the past two months, yet, her entire character is based on the punchline that she’s not getting it, something which almost always comes with some form of physical or emotional punishment (falling through a skylight, hitting a car on her bike, etc). Credit to Boyle and her stuntperson for the great physical comedy, but if you take a moment to think about it, it’s not such a good look.
Regarding the home release itself, here’s what you need to know as you try to determine if this is the purchase for you.
The steelbook is the primary feature that makes the 30th anniversary edition feel new. All that’s included is a Blu-ray and digital code, both with previously released bonus features of a commentary track with director Penelope Spheeris and behind the scenes featurette “Extreme Close-up.” The Blu-ray also contains a theatrical trailer for the film. If you’ve owned the film on Blu-ray or digital previously, there’s no improvement in visual or audio quality from previous releases, no new bonus features of any kind, or any other enticement beyond the packaging. Steelbooks have become thing du jour for home releases in the last few years, decorated with simple recreations of poster art, vector art, brand-new interpretations of film moments, and even designs which change with slipcovers. If this fits your interests, then the design here may be enough for you to drop your cash. The outside is a simple slightly-fading orange from top-to-bottom with movie quotes written all over, the titular Wayne and Garth in different positions as images on the front and back. Inside is the Blu-ray with digital code slip fit inside a transparent plastic so that you can see a movie still of the two recreating a moment from the Laverne & Shirley television program opening. As someone who didn’t open a copy prior to this home release review, I’d have thrown down the coin for it because (a) the movie continues to delight me and (b) the design amuses me, even in its simplicity. If that describes you, then making the choice to pick it up is made.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with time capsules. Sometimes movies only really work if they are locked in an era. It doesn’t mean that they can’t be enjoyed or thoughtfully examined. It just means that if you were to make it today, the jokes would be designed in a completely different manner, their set-ups and punchlines constructed to fit what is relevant in society now. But, for that, you’d need someone else playing completely different characters because Wayne and Garth represent a specific kind of person brought to life by the unique gifts of Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey. Until the time comes when we get this generations’ Wayne and Garth, pop this disc in and yell “Game on!”
Wayne’s World Previously Available Special Features:
- Commentary with director Penelope Spheeris (1:34:23)
- Extreme Close-up (23:15)
- **Theatrical Trailer
Available on Blu-ray in limited edition steelbook February 1st, 2022.
For more information, head to the official Wayne’s World website.
Categories: Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews, streaming
Leave a Reply