You’ll laugh again! You’ll cry again! You’ll hurl again!
Sequels are about as predictable as Joan Rivers going under the knife, Marilyn Manson’s futile attempts to be shocking, and summer sitcom reruns. Not even death or poor box office returns seem to delay the inevitable next chapter — look at Alien Resurrection. What isn’t as foreseeable is a sequel that is at least worthy to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps. Such as sequel is Wayne’s World 2. It’s not as solid a film as Wayne’s World, likely because it lacks the strong directorial hand of Penelope Spheeris, but it is laugh out loud funny, quirky, and somewhat unpredictable. Hop in the Mirthmobile and let’s go for another ride!
Time has passed since Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and Garth Algar (Dana Carvey) vanquished the foe of corporate greed, as embodied by Rob Lowe, in Wayne’s World. Now, the headbanging duo share an apartment, though moving out of their parents’ homes hardly means they’ve become responsible adults. Wayne is upset that his life seems directionless. Rock legend Jim Morrison appears to him in a dream, and tells him he should put on a rock festival in his hometown of Aurora, Illinois. “If you book them, they will come” is his mantra. So, Wayne does exactly that. However, shifty record producer Bobby (Christopher Walken) threatens both Waynestock and Wayne’s relationship with his main squeeze Cassandra (Tea Carrere). To make matters worse, his good pal Garth is distracted by a blond seductress, played with great verve by Kim Basinger. Can the day possibly be saved?
Much like Wayne’s World, a plot summary of Wayne’s World 2 cannot possibly do it justice. Some genres use plot as the driving force of the film; others, as a clothesline upon which to hang what most audiences will find to be the “interesting” parts of the movie. For action films, that’s the rough and tumble aspects of the film. For comedies, it’s the jokes, and Wayne’s World 2 is certainly a comedy that relies on gags rather than story. Its tone and style is very similar to Wayne’s World, though its jokes are less esoteric and based on non sequitur, and are more linear and commonplace. Again, I think the differences are all due to the replacement of Penelope Spheeris as director. Stephen Surjik is her replacement. His experience prior to Wayne’s World 2 was on Canadian television; Kids in the Hall was his first directing gig, but their sly touch and inimitable, bizarre sense of humor doesn’t seem to belong to the fledgling director. It’s only the strong writing skills of Mike Myers and Bonnie and Terry Turner (the married writing team who started on Saturday Night Live and also co-wrote Wayne’s World) that salvage the film from his leaden hand. But enough with the hopeless negativity.
There’s a lot to like about Wayne’s World 2. Easily the best thing going for it is Christopher Walken. Walken is definitely typecast as the creepy, off-kilter weirdo. Wayne’s World 2 was probably his first outright comedy, and it’s a great choice for him. Of course, he is the “bad guy,” and plays the role straight, but just hearing his odd cadence talking back to these brain-dead “teens” is enough to make you bust a gut. And he dances! It’s the very definition of sublimity to see Christopher Walken dance!
Keeping to the actors, Kim Basinger’s small role is quite possibly her best outside of L.A. Confidential. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s quite a bit of fun. It’s also a chance for Dana Carvey to shine without playing second fiddle to Mike Myers. Basinger relishes the role of the sexpot, and it’s a blast to watch her coming on to the nerdy Garth, while he is oblivious to her entendres (“Take me, Garth!” “Where? I’m low on gas and you need a jacket!”).
There’s also a great cameo by a classic actor. Now, I have to admit, as much as I love the first movie, I hadn’t seen the entire sequel until the DVD was released. There’s a scene where Wayne is listening to a guy in a gas station. He turns to the camera and asks why they couldn’t find a better actor, even if it is a small role. The director (Stephen Surjik doing the obligatory director’s cameo) leads the actor out, and I thought, “What? Are they going to bring in [this certain actor]?” Guess what? I must be clairvoyant, because it happened. And I could not stop laughing.
Aside from the actors, there’s quite a few other excellent gags. Particularly amusing is Jim Morrison, Sammy Davis Jr., and the “weird naked Indian” who appear to Wayne in his dreams. Obviously, it’s a parody of Oliver Stone’s The Doors. In fact, Morrison seems more like Val Kilmer playing Jim Morrison than the icon himself. No matter, because the sequences are what are most reminiscent of the it-makes-no-sense-but-it’s-hilarious-anyway humor of the first film. There’s two scenes that make a great pay-off with watermelons, chickens, and a plate glass window. There’s the extended parody of The Graduate. And, funniest of all, there’s several scenes that take the subtitled Cantonese sequences and one-up them with chop-socky kung fu and bad dubbing. To think, it made fun of wire-fu before the genre had even made its way into mainstream consciousness in the United States.
As for the DVD, the disc is very nearly identical to the first film. In fact, I could repeat my assessment of the disc qualities…and you’d never know. Wayne’s World 2 is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. There is no apparent film grain, very few dust speckles, and no noticeable digital artifacts. Flesh tones tend to be a little reddish, and dark scenes are a little too dark, but otherwise the transfer is first-rate. Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and it is an exceptional remix from its theatrical stereo sound. Dialogue is clear and natural, and the active mix uses all channels. Especially impressive are the live concert scenes, which burst to life all around you. Extras are a little light, but the quality is almost there, so I’m not complaining too strenuously. Director Stephen Surjik offers the commentary. If I thought Penelope Spheeris was a little dry, then Surjik is Sahara Desert dry. The dude is just not funny, and doesn’t really seem to understand funny. How did this guy hang out with Dave Foley, Bruce McCullough, and the rest of the Kids in the Hall and not have some of it rub off? The interview section, entitled “Extreme Close-Up,” gives around 15 minutes of retrospective interviews with Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, and Stephen Surjik. Their gushing seems a little more forced than in the interviews on the Wayne’s World disc. They, of course, have nothing but great things to say about Christopher Walken. Other that that, the only other extra is the theatrical trailer.
Even the menus are the same! You know those stations on most cable networks that are devoted to showing the programming schedule? That’s what the menus look like. The top half of the screen shows fake ads or the trailer for the movie. The bottom half is arranged like a programming grid. On the main menu, there’s even clips for other programs! Forget all those flashy whiz-bang menus; these are the coolest I’ve ever seen.
Have I already said that Stephen Surjik had no grasp of directing a comedy? Other than the near-inept direction, the other problem is inherent to Wayne’s World 2’s role as a sequel. It’s just not as fresh or original. I said AS fresh or original. It’s still pretty damn funny. While you’re buying the first movie, you might as well get this disc and make them a double feature. That way, there can be even more laughing and crying and hurling.