My boyfriend Jonathan and I both love movies (thankfully!), but we’ve found that even though we have fairly similar tastes a lot of time, we’ve each seen a lot that the other hasn’t, simply due to what we’ve been exposed to over the years. So we’ve been taking turns choosing movies that mean a lot to us for the other one to watch. We thought it would be fun to share some of this journey, covering both our viewpoints – why the person choosing the film likes the film and thought the other should see it, and what the person who hadn’t seen the film before ended up thinking about it. I wouldn’t count on us doing it for EVERY film we get each other to watch, but we’ll try to for a good portion of them, starting with this one.
Movie: Wayne’s World
Info: 1992 USA. Director: Penelope Sheeris. Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Rob Lowe.
Date and Method Watched: December 3rd, at home via Zune rental on Xbox Live
There are a few films out there that have shaped my sense of humor into what it is today. I’ll quote them without hesitation and many of their gags will make way into conversation without me even thinking about it. In college, if one of us started talking about any of these movies, the rest of us would begin barking quote after quote to try and get the other laughing. I can’t count how many times we would mimic John Cleese talking about the terrors of that evil rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail or how many times we’d try and out-quote each other from Mystery Men. But it was one film that stood out among the others in terms of defining my sense of humor, rising above the rest in quotability and being able to match my silly outlook on life; and after the fourth or fifth time I quoted Wayne’s World to Jandy without her having any idea what I was talking about, I decided it was time to share.
It’s difficult to pick one thing to like about this film; there’s so much fun to be had. The humor here is self-aware, something that I immediately take a shine to. There’s a scene in particular where Wayne and Garth tell Rob Lowe’s character that they won’t bow to corporate sponsorship, all the while being advertisements themselves. The humor is also kind of abstract, making references that not everyone my age might necessarily get. For example, there’s a scene where our heroes re-create the opening to Laverne and Shirley which gets me laughing every single time I see the film. Garth interrupts it fairly quickly to get us back to the plot at hand, which goes back to that whole “self-aware” thing. Absolute gold.
And furthermore, Wayne and Garth keep from falling into the “idiot” stereotype that plagues other buddy films (Dumb and Dumber being perhaps the most prevalent example). I tend to like my buffoonery laced with a bit of smarts and this film does it plenty. There’s a scene fairly early on where Wayne tries to woo chick-rocker Cassandra with his rather quick adoption of Cantonese. The interchange is hilarious and I usually “lose my shit” when he stops talking and lets the subtitles continue for him.
I could go on and on with this film, citing moment after brilliant moment, but I think you get the idea. What made it fun this time around was watching Jandy’s reaction to the film. None of the jokes or references were lost on her and it was kind of awesome to realize that we share much in the way of humor. It was also nice to be able to give Jandy some context to my overall silliness.
Jonathan’s Flickchart ranking: 82 out of 1174
There are a lot of early ’90s films I missed because I was too busy watching classic films – I say that neither as an excuse nor out of elitism, but purely as a fact. Thus there are a lot of films like Wayne’s World that all my peers just assume I’ve seen, and Jon is slowly but surely helping me make sure I get around to them. I actually had written Wayne’s World off as a stupid comedy of the sort that I don’t really like – along with Dumb and Dumber, which we watched a few months ago and I enjoyed decently enough, but isn’t really my style. In fact, I had those two so closely associated in my head that my first thought when Jon suggested we check out Wayne’s World next was “will I like it more or less than Dumb and Dumber?” He assured me I would like it a lot more, and he apparently knows me well, because I really liked, borderline loved this movie.
I’d seen a couple of the skits on SNL, so I had a little bit of an idea of the cable-access show premise, though the film does quite a nice job of fleshing that out with a corporate buy-out plot with a smarmy Rob Lowe trying to cash in on Wayne and Garth’s youth demographic appeal. That’s all pretty predictable. But what makes the film so much fun is the devil-may-care attitudes of Wayne and Garth themselves, more intent on partying on and enjoying their lives (even when that consists of nothing more than hearing a band at the local club or playing street hockey in between passing cars) than anything else, and the extreme level of self-awareness the film displays. Wayne and Garth are constantly talking and mugging directly to the camera, even to the point that when another character starts giving his life story, Wayne pulls him aside, warning him that only he and Garth are allowed to talk to the camera. Other times, the pair tell Lowe in no uncertain terms that they’ll never sell out for sponsorship, while eating Pizza Hut, drinking Pepsi, and wearing Reebok apparel. It’s quite obvious there, but it’s still funny, simply because it’s so shameless about the jokes it’s going for.
I also loved how these apparently dumb and aimless characters would suddenly start saying incredibly smart and learned things. Like when Wayne learned enough Cantonese to speak to Cassandra using big words and advanced concepts, and Garth knew how to reroute the satellites to get Cassandra’s band a big audition. Of course there’s nothing truly believable here, but the film takes that and runs with it, even giving three different endings with Wayne and Garth choosing which one to show next. This is my type of fun – very meta, very knowing, playing on expectations in really unusual and interesting ways, while never really being false to the characters of Wayne and Garth as initially set up. Several of the scenes or lines were familiar to me, through cultural osmosis, I guess. It was great to see where they came from and enjoy them in context – as much context as anything in Wayne’s World has. And yeah, I see what Jon means when he cites this film as being really influential on his sense of humor. Lots of the jokes he makes are obviously in this vein. :)
Jandy’s Flickchart ranking: 527 out of 2839