Certain things make you take stock of where you are in life. Looking back at Wayne’s World is like finding a photograph of yourself from when you hung out with a crew of scruffy oiks – you’ve all moved on and grown up, gotten more ‘mature’ and ditched ‘that hair’.

Thing is, that picture makes you smile, and it reminds you that the times were good when you had less cares – and that a little rebellion is maybe more important than you gave it credit, youthful energy or no. Also, jokes about gunracks are like unicorns – incomparibly rare and a special kind of ridiculous.

Wayne’s World is a special kind of ridiculous! Canadian-born Mike Myers had to date cut his teeth on the UK’s Wackaday with Timmy Mallet and CBC’s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, but after the success of the sketch segments on Saturday Night Live, he and co-star Dana Carvey were ready to take the next step.

Garth

Being of the second generation to go into movies in a big way, SNL alums graduating from television wasn’t the traditional US comedy career path it is today. From early trailblazers such as Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd, to Melissa McCarthy and Will Ferrell – SNL serves to be a focal lens through which a ton of talent finds its way to our screens. Remember that our own Iron Man, Mr Downey Jnr., has done many stints on the show.

In 1992, we were ready for Wayne’s World. Not only were huge TV stations like MTV and Nickelodeon taking big risks on weird shows and formats, but mainstream music was moving into the alternative, into the newly-coined ‘grunge’, hip hop and metal.

Wayne’s World was very much a zeitgeist release, and everyone seemed to know it. Honest attempts to puncture the opulent period of the ’80s, such as with the likes of Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, hadn’t dented the progression of consumerism and status symbols in our culture. The youthful ‘Gen X’, much like those dubbed ‘hipsters’ and ‘millenials’ today, could clearly see where grown ups were going wrong. Such is always the curse of growing up in the world made your parents, we all try to stop the grown-up world from tearing away the vestiges of our childhood.

Guita

For the uninitiated, the story focuses on Wayne Campbell and his bizarre/highly-strung friend Garth, who host a hair rock-themed chat show on local town cable TV, with interviews often turning into skits. Their free-wheeling style and local popularity garners not only the attention of Wayne’s rock-singer beau Cassandra (played by the actually rocking and attitude-having Tia Carrere), and the typical ’80s business douche Benjamin, given sardonic life by Rob Lowe.

Once Benjamin helps the duo to bring their show to network television, the compromises to cater for sponsors creep in, and Benjamin schemes on Cassandra while assisting in her bands career. Wayne and Garth lose almost everything as they try to reclaim their show and loony integrity, as it was their friendships and not fame or money that made them happy.

This brief overview misses some many great moments:

The ‘WE’RE NOT WORTHY!’ while backstage at an Alice Cooper concert.

Chris Farley and Meat Loaf cameos at that same gig, while cooking up a scheme to get Cassandra’s band signed.

The early Bohemian Rhapsody headbanging in the car scene, leading into the ‘Grey Poupon’ skit with an upper class driver at some traffic lights.

That cop and his obsession with rectal exams.

Wayne using cue cards to intimate a corporate sponsor ‘blows goats’ on live network TV.

boheme

If you’ve seen it, you’ll know these moments and others, this being one of the rare films that is almost entirely mimetic, with heavy use of the fourth wall breaking techniques we’re now so used to with 22 Jump Street and Deadpool, for example.

It’s hard not to overstate how important Wayne’s World is, for you can see it’s DNA even in some of the ways that Youtube comedy stars and gamers talk to camera. The audience preference for ad-lib and meta commentary that once flavoured entertainment in a unique way, as in this film, almost predated it’s ubiquity on the internet and in tentpole comedy releases from studios, given the rash Apatow-like productions that we see now (even the maligned Ghostbusters reboot had this technique in mind).

With a limited run in cinemas again, Wayne’s World remains funny, if not entirely fresh. But that actually proves more poignant in this case. We can see that the generational struggles plaguing us now were the same then, that every person must internalise the lesson here.

Be who you are, not who the world would like you to be. And for gosh sakes, do not grow up – it’s a trick.

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