Happy 30th birthday to Wayne’s World, which was released on this day in 1992. Aside from this excellent retrospective, we’re also dusting off a few oldie but goodie articles; you can check them all out here. Party on!
The fascinating thing about revisiting Wayne’s World in 2022 is what an innocent film it is. Not just in an MPAA sense, though you can feel it working hard to hit that right mix of PG-13. But the 1992 film adapted from a series of classic Saturday Night Live sketches not only holds up remarkably well, thanks to a crisp gag-filled script, locked-in performances from everyone involved, and iconic moments, but when distilled down to its elements, it’s all about love in all its many flavors — a love of music, and a love for others.
From the initial opening — in which sleezy producer Benjamin (Rob Lowe) and his latest conquest (Ione Skye) channel flip to a cable access show shot in the host’s basement (yes, some of the words in this sentence may make no sense to anyone born before the year 2000) — to Wayne Campbell’s (Mike Myers) first direct address to the camera, Wayne’s World knows it is telling a simple story but a clear and concise one.
This is because within the first five minutes of the film, it’s established what Wayne and his best friend Garth (Dana Carvey) care about: Making their humble cable access show, yes, but also making sure to enjoy this period of their life, partying hard to a great soundtrack with their pals. The head-banging scene in the car isn’t just a tribute to a classic Queen track (a band which, lest we forget, was very much off the radar at this point in history). Without dialogue, it sets up one of the film’s key components — a heartfelt celebration of just how much fun and powerful rock music can be, and how it brings people together.
And it spread that love even to generations that might not have been previously exposed to hard rock acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Alice Cooper. While the dearth of people of color is an issue (Tia Carrere as Cassandra being the obvious exception), Wayne’s World achieved a certain level of universal appeal despite the niche subject matter — especially for any kids of the right age.