Wayne's World 2

(Stephen Surjik, USA, 1993)


I have a particularly sweet memory of sitting in a sparsely populated preview room and innocently discovering the first Wayne's World (1992), before a wave of media hype saturated the country and ensured the film's success.

The appeal of Penelope Spheeris' original foray into the land of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) was resolutely daggy: her movie had an everyday, suburban quality which made even these dribbling nerds rather endearing.

With Wayne's World 2, such a quality of innocence is no longer possible – neither in the viewer nor in the characters. The jokes begin from the premise that Wayne and Garth now know slightly more about the ways of the world, just as we all know the plot moves and quotable lines from the first film.

The miracle of this sequel directed by Stephen Surjik is that, even with this degree of hyper-self-consciousness, it manages to be extremely funny – and even to recapture what Surjik astutely describes as the "earnest quality" of the original.

More than ever, Wayne and Garth inhabit a surreal movie world comprised of large-scale quotations from the mediascape of pop culture – everything from Kim Basinger and Aerosmith to the Chinese martial arts movies of the '70s (which are particularly well parodied).

As this last example shows, co-writer Myers has a retro mania for all pop fads from twenty to thirty years ago that today appear especially garish, ridiculous or sublime – hence the plot's focus on preparations for a "Waynestock" festival, complete with psychedelic dream sequences pastiched from Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991).

There are many character-based comedies in contemporary cinema but few true gag comedies – movies devoted to the relentless, rapid-fire establishment and execution of broadly physical jokes. Wayne's World 2, like Hexed (1993), is an almost unflagging gag comedy, with a level of energy and inventiveness quite distinct from the more rambling, laid-back pleasures of Spheeris' Wayne's World.

© Adrian Martin June 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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