Best Of The Best: Wayne’s World (1992)

wayne's world After recently rewatching The Matrix and remembering how incredibly huge it was for me at the time it came out, I decided to start going back and watching some of my all-time favorite movies. I’ll be sticking to the ones I haven’t written about here on UM already, because even I’m surprised at how many movies I love that I haven’t written about here on the site.

At this point you might be thinking, “You’re writing about your favorite movies and Wayne’s World is the first entry?” To which I reply, hell yes! This movie about a pair of goofy midwestern guys with their own cable access TV show who live pretty rad lives filled with rock clubs, friends, pretty girls, bands and weird characters came at just the right for me.

I was 9 when the movie came out. This was right around the time where my dad and I would see who could stay up later on Saturday’s to catch SNL, so I was already somewhat familiar with Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey). From there it wasn’t a hard sell to get me into the theaters. As it turned out, I actually went to see this movie with my grandma when I went to visit her. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but I can imagine she was a mixture of confused and appalled. Still, I had a great time and soon enough added this movie and it’s 1993 sequel to my tape collection. And, of course, the soundtrack was in my 50-disc CD player.

Beyond that, this film was also a touchstone amongst my group of friends throughout grade school and high school. In fact, my two buddies Chad and Charlie dressed up as Wayne and Garth for Halloween our freshman year of high school. Heck, another friend would constantly pledge his undying love for the film’s female lead Tia Carrere. This movie was part of our DNA. It shaped us in ways that I can’t even properly explain.

Speaking of explanations, I should probably talk about the movie itself. Wayne and Garth host the cable access show Wayne’s World. Slimy 80s yuppie holdover Rob Lowe sees this and offers them a deal to take the show to a wider audience. Meanwhile, Wayne meet’s Carrere’s character Cassandra. She’s in a band that Lowe’s character Benjamin tries to sign in an effort to seduce her. Eventually, Wayne and Garth realize what’s up, get back to their roots and try to make things happen anyway. It’s kind of a “screw the man” film packed with all kinds of humor and gags that might not work for modern audiences, but sure as hell worked on me and my friends when we were kids.

While some of the humor is admittedly amateurish and sophomoric, this movie also gets into some fourth-wall breaking stuff that not only comments on this movie, but movie-making in general. This might not seem like a big deal, but to me, at the time, it helped me figure out some of the different working parts that went into making something like this.

At the end of the day, I understand that Wayne’s World fits into the category of “Great To Me” and not necessarily “Great,” but that’s the whole point of these Best Of The Best posts.

Not-So-Quick Movie Review: 54 (1998)

54 movie poster They say that pop culture has a tendency to roll back over on itself every 20 years or so. What’s old becomes new again not only because the people who were kids 20 years prior have now grown up, earned money and got nostalgic, but also because those same people have worked their way into the various creative worlds. It’s the reason why I’m seeing so many shows with references to movies I loved as a kid as well as reboots of the same, but also the reason we saw such a big uptick in 70s-based projects in the late 90s, specifically ones centered on disco and the world that grew up and died around it.

I would have been 15 when 54 came out, so I don’t have any personal connection to the heyday of disco in the late 70s. Hell, it was dead and buried by the time I was born in 1983. And yet, I have a strange second hand nostalgia for that era because of the disco era’s resurrection and examination in the late 90s. I became a huge fan of That 70s Show, which is one of the all-time best coming of age sitcoms around in my book. But there were also films like 54, The Last Days Of Disco and even The Summer of Sam that all came out around 1998 and 1999. At that same time there were a ton of TV specials about what really went on behind the velvet ropes of Studio 54, a legendary nightclub in Manhattan run by a guy named Steve Rubell who was an incredibly shrewd club owner, but not very good at hiding his less-than-honest business practices. Studio 54 was the place to do just about anything and everything, assuming you could get in.

That’s the backdrop for the 1998 film by Mark Christopher that focuses on young Shane O’Shea (Ryan Phillippe), a Jersey kid who pines to be in the big city where he just knows he’ll become rich and famous like his hero Julie Black (Neve Campbell), a fellow New Jersian who stars on a soap opera. Eventually he makes his way to Studio 54 where he literally has to leave his old life behind (they don’t let his friends in) and winds up getting a job. From there he makes a whole new group of friends including coat check girl/wannabe singer Anita (Salma Hayek) and her busboy husband Greg (Breckin Meyer) and does his best to enjoy his new social status when it doesn’t go against a moral code with roots back to his home life in Jersey.

At the end of the day, 54’s story isn’t all that mind-blowing. It’s your basic “lower-middle class kid gets a look at the world of the rich and famous and discovers its not as genuine as he though” story. But, the gilding of the time period is very engrossing if that’s something you’re interested in. All the actors really dove into the characters and seemed to dig deep into some emotional places that all get left on the screen like so many empty bottles after a big party. I wasn’t overly familiar with Phillippe outside of his standard horror appearances in the 90s, but I thought he did a quality job of actually going through the emotions instead of just the motions.I especially enjoyed his various interactions with Ellen Albertini Dow’s Disco Dottie. And, man, Mike Meyers did a killer job of bringing the off-kilter Rubell to life on the big screen.

I read that Chistopher’s intended cut of the film had about 30-40 extra minutes and a variety of extra subplots that were completely cut by Miramax, something that wasn’t uncommon back then. He got his hands on the extra footage and put together a longer version that I would like to see some day, if possible.