Wayne's World

Mandatory Rewind: ‘Wayne’s World’ Still Parties On 30 Years Later

When it comes to the Mike Myers oeuvre, there are two properties that immediately come to mind –  Austin Powers & Wayne’s World. Both are notable in their own right, and ironically enough, both are celebrating notable anniversaries this year. While the former is arguably a better film, the latter still manages to have a large cultural footprint. Truth be told, Wayne’s World is a bit of a miracle. At the same time, the film is also a bit of a time machine of sorts, offering a perfect snapshot of 90s culture.

Released in 1992, Wayne’s World was the first of many SNL spinoff films based on sketches. There’s no reason why the film should have been successful, and yet it managed to become the tenth-highest grossing film of the year. Simply put, Wayne’s World was a massive critical and commercial success, paving the way for comedy movies in the decade that followed. In this respect, Penelope Spheeris’ film is far more influential than the creators could have ever imagined. But after 30 years, Wayne and Garth are still partying on in this landmark comedy movie.

On the surface, arguably the most memorable part of Wayne’s World is the film’s numerous one-liners. There are so many quotable lines that you could arguably write an entire article exploring the dialogue. It’s also the type of film that features wall-to-wall situational comedy. Fortunately, the movie has enough self-awareness to lean into these bits instead of focusing on the plot. Ultimately, this is the smartest thing that Wayne’s World could have done since the situational comedy is easily the best part of the film and everything else is just window dressing.

At its core, Wayne’s World is more about strong characterization than anything else. Although the characters don’t have much of an arc, they are so memorable because they are simple, strong personalities. Nothing is played straight, and every scene is better because of it. The cast still holds up remarkably well, with the exception of Rob Lowe. It’s almost as if he’s playing a character who would make a sex tape with an underage girl — essentially a thinly veiled version of himself. Despite this, the many cameos in Wayne’s World remain a highlight, especially that of Chris Farley, Robert Patrick, and Alice Cooper.

While the movie is often looked back upon as a significant piece of 90s nostalgia, it’s really a homage to everything that came before. There are numerous references to 70s and 80s pop culture mainstays, along with some 60s references (Mission: Impossible is referenced multiple times). Interestingly, Wayne’s World offers an interesting pop culture inflection point. With the exception of notable franchises such as Star Wars or Star Trek (which is ironically referenced in the movie), the idea of fandom in the way we know it now wasn’t as pervasive back then. In other words, Wayne’s World very much represents the beginning of modern fandom.

On the opposite side of the same coin, the aforementioned self-awareness was also ahead of its time. In a world where movies like Deadpool and Fight Club were years or even decades away, Wayne’s World was paving the road even further. Sure, comedies like Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles broke the fourth wall first. But Wayne’s World was arguably the movie that used the technique to actually enhance the comedy. In this way, it’s one of the first movies to openly acknowledge that it was, indeed, a movie. Then there’s the film’s triple ending, which probably plays better now than it did even when it was released. 

Although the film feels illogical on the surface, it totally works, even thirty years later. For a film that is based on a simplistic sketch that seemingly doesn’t have much meat to the bone, Wayne’s World has a surprisingly intelligent subtext. It’s a movie that addresses the past, present, and future of comedy all in one go. It’s oddly prescient in that way, offering a glimpse of the past, but also what the future would hold. In many ways, Wanye’s World defined what a successful 90s comedy should strive for. In this way, we were indeed not worthy.

Cover Photo: Paramount

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