Wayne’s World At 21

Party time (to move out of your parents' basement)…

If you grew up in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and drank in the music and surrounding culture of the time, there’s every chance that Wayne’s World left an impression.

The 1992 comedy – starring a pre-Austin Powers (and Shrek, for that matter) Mike Myers and Dana Carvey as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar, respectively – was born out of a Saturday Night Live skit. It could have been – perhaps it should have been – a relatively small, cultish hit. Funny if you could relate to the slacker attitudes of the core characters, but hardly a mainstream proposition.

But it exceeded expectations. Wayne’s World was the tenth-highest-grossing movie of 1992, and regularly appears on greatest-comedy-flicks-ever style lists. Clash’s film editor Ben Hopkins looks back on a movie that, now 21 years old, continues to entertain.

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How Wayne’s World changed the course of film history (NOT)

Wayne’s World is 21-years-old. Some films develop like a fine wine: perhaps their reflection of a disappearing past provides a hint of nostalgia, or emerging cultural developments means that they’re more relevant than ever before.

Wayne’s World isn’t a fine wine. It’s more like a silent-but-violent fart: you can never really intellectualise it and on occasions it stinks, but mostly it’s funny in a way that doesn’t stand up to any level of scrutiny.

What has Wayne’s World given the world at large, aside from the constant uncertainty about whatever happened to Wayne’s love interest, played by Tia Carrere? (Since you didn’t ask – a list of increasingly obscure films and, improbably, two Grammy Awards for Best Hawaiian Album).

In 2013, nobody cleverly reverses the meaning of a sentence by suffixing “NOT” at the end. (Note: “NOT” always has to be written in block capitals.) And nobody, with the possible exception of drunken frat boys, actually says “Schwing!” when they see an attractive woman.

Yet other jokes continue to endure. You’ve doubtless seen people ranging from teenagers hammered on their first alcopop to city suits pumping down the pints on a Friday night recreating the scene in which Wayne, Garth and pals bang their heads to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (clip below).

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And sometimes Wayne’s World references are so ingrained in contemporary culture that it’s easy to forget that the film was the actual source of the joke. Observe the weird, praising bow that fans of your lower-league football club greet their veteran fullback with.

He may well have made 400 appearances for the club – being too good to release, but not good enough to be snapped up by a bigger team – but the chances are that he thinks he’s receiving something steeped in football’s finest traditions.

No. It’s inspired by our dysfunctional duo’s meeting with Alice Cooper (clip below).

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These are the Wayne’s World moments that stick in the mind and surely always win. Maybe one day in the distant future, North Korea will have sufficient cultural freedom for teenagers in Pyongyang to trick their slower-witted contemporaries with “Asphinctersayswhat?”

But, much like Naked Gun, what makes Wayne’s World so memorable is its wealth of daftly inspired wordplay. Take a scene from the sequel as evidence:

“Take me, Garth!” purrs Honey Hornée, played with defining 1993 glamour by Kim Basinger.

“Where?” quizzes Garth, his empty expression flickering desperately around the room. “I’m low on gas and you need a jacket.”

What will people think of Wayne’s World in another 21 years time? Who the hell cares? “It’s Wayne’s World! Wayne’s World! Party time! Excellent!”

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