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Smart and Funny Wayne's World is worthy of a visit

Wayne's World
Directed by Penelope Spheeris.
Written by Mike Myers,
Bonnie Turner, and Terry Turner.
Starring Mike Myers, Dana Carvey,
and Rob Lowe.

By Chris Roberge
Arts Editor

One of the latest trends in the movies seems to be translating television to the big screen. Whether it's last year's hit The Addams Family or the upcoming Twin Peaks, producers are attempting to break down the barriers between the two media. Often, some of the more mediocre elements of prime time TV make their way into today's big-budget extravaganzas, threatening to reduce the mystique of film to a state of endlessly unspectacular entertainment. (See the romance or humor of Medicine Man for proof of this.) But sometimes, the transition can be empowering -- providing a wonderful chance to expand the range of the original show -- as is the case with the new Wayne's World. Given the added freedom of ninety minutes of running time and a PG-13 rating, the very funny movie gets a chance to show more of Wayne's world of Aurora, Illinois, without losing any of the originality, intelligence, or humor that made the Saturday Night Live skits so popular. For anyone who enjoys the original version, Wayne's World is definitely worth a visit.

The Wayne's World show on Saturday Night Live depicts a late-night cable-access program broadcast from the basement of Wayne Cambell's home. The show stars Wayne (Mike Myers) and his best friend, Garth Algar (Dana Carvey). The two metal fans talk about their worship of such rock acts as Aerosmith and Alice Cooper and their quest for the ultimate "Babe-raham Lincoln," while interviewing and insulting guests from the local community and featuring such technological innovations as the "Suck Cut" hair clipper. In the deep and complex plot (not!) of the movie version, a television executive, Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe), sees the show and decides it is as a perfect project to buy and exploit into a vehicle for advertisements aimed at its young audience. Other subplots involve Wayne's attraction for Cassandra (Tia Carrere), the lead singer of local band Crucial Taunt, and his avoidance of his possibly psychotic ex-girlfriend, Stacy (Lara Flynn Boyle). But the few moments in which Wayne's World actually follows a plot are among the film's weakest. In much more successful scenes, the movie pokes fun at its own contrived nature, with such subtitles as "Gratuitous Sex Scene" and "Oscar Clip."

As Wayne and Garth, Myers and Carvey are extremely good, which is fortunate because most of the other performances are fair at best. Lowe never really seems at ease in his role, and generates little laughter. Carrere, a veteran of such critically disclaimed films as Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man and Showdown in Little Tokyo, shows a strong lack of both acting and musical skills. And Boyle, who was excellent as Donna Hayward in television's Twin Peaks, has little to do here but crash through skylights and crash into parked cars.

Wayne's World is not in the same league as The Blues Brothers, another famous Saturday Night Live-inspired movie, but it is easily a match for either of the very funny Bill and Ted movies. Comparisons between the two duos can only go so far, though. While Bill and Ted draw much of their humor from their total cluelessness, Wayne and Garth are funny because in a twisted way, they are more sophisticated than any of the adults that they encounter as they drive around in the Mirthmobile, complete with a handy licorice dispenser. Many of the quite intelligent gags in Wayne's World come from Wayne and Garth's vast knowledge of music, movies, and television. Some of the jokes may be lost on those who are unfamiliar with such cultural phenomena as Scooby Doo, Led Zeppelin, product placement, Terminator 2, and Laverne and Shirley.

Most of the style and substance of Wayne's World will be recognizable to anyone who has watched the original, but one element definitely worth mentioning is the expanded characterization of Garth. Carvey does an excellent job portraying Garth -- a teenager in constant flux between the roles of headbanger, shy paranoid, and endearing nerd. Some of the greatest pleasures provided by the movie come through seeing Garth, who is more at ease talking to the camera than to the film's other characters, use an electric shock gun on a brute at a local club or fantasize about pelvic-thrusting himself towards Dreamwoman (Donna Dixon) while Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" pumps in the background. Garth is a funny and instantly appealing character who definitely deserves to stop chanting, "I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!" Wayne's World is certainly a worthy showcase for his and Myers' talents, insights, and humor.