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Since it's debut in 1975 Saturday Night Live has been a launching pad for hot comedic talent. In the early 90's producer Lorne Micheals came up with the idea of making movies based on some of the popular sketches. Over all the years some have failed and some haven't but they all have one thing in common. None of them reached the level of the first. Now Paramount Home Entertainment brings the film that launched it all "Wayne's World" starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey to DVD.

Wayne's World
Movie
Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) are two friends who live in Aurora, Illinois. They've both had their fair share of "name tag" jobs and it doesn't seem like they have any plans for the future. On the plus side they are sort of local celebrities as they host one of Aurora's most popular public access shows "Wayne's World" from Wayne's basement. "Wayne's World" is sort of a show that young people can relate to as they talk about babes and tunes. One night Benjamin Oliver (Rob Lowe) a local TV executive just happens upon the show and immediately sees a money making opportunity. It turns out that he has been looking for the perfect show to sell to a lucrative advertising client named Noah (Brian Doyle-Murray) who runs a chain of arcades. Wayne is delighted with the deal as doing the show for money is his big  dream. In the meantime Wayne also meets Cassandra (Tia Carrere) lead singer of a local rock band and begins to fall in love with her.  However problems arise when Benjamin tries to take control of the show and Wayne's girl by using his power and influence.

"Wayne's World" was one of the first movies to be based on a skit from Saturday Night Live. In the years following Wayne's World a number of other skits would be made into movies including "It's Pat", "Coneheads", "A Night at the Roxbury" and most recently "The Ladies Man". While a number of these skits worked well in their 5 minute length on the show, when stretched to a feature length the results were disastrous. "Wayne's World" was the first and only one to really work well on the big screen.

A big reason why the film worked so well is that the characters and the actors portraying the characters were more than simply one gag characters. Wayne and Garth lend themselves to numerous funny situations and can with the help of interesting supporting characters hold the audience's attention for 90 minutes. Mike Myers who has gone on to create a hugely successful franchise in "Austin Powers" is most excellent as Wayne, the sensitive guy who may look and act young but is wise beyond his years. Dana Carvey one of Mike's friends is excellent as Garth Elgar a nerdy guy who isn't great with the ladies but helps Wayne out from to time with his interest in science.  Supporting performances from the ever creepy looking Rob Lowe and Tia Carrere are excellent. A really top-notch cast makes "Wayne's World" that much better. Sure the plot isn't the greatest but the cast really draws you in. It's no surprise that Myers has moved on to bigger and better things. 

Part of the success of "Wayne's World" should be given to director Penelope Spheeris who had previous directed documentaries about heavy metal music. As Wayne and Garth are into that scene she seemed a natural choice. She keeps the movie moving pretty fast although it does tend to slow down in places. Since this picture she has made some bad choices directing such non-classics as "Senseless" (1998), "Black Sheep" (1996) and what I felt was her biggest mistake "The Beverley Hillbillies" (1993).  A perfect choice for a directorial debut, too bad she hasn't had as much success with other projects since. I guess she'll always be billed in the following way "From the Director of Wayne's World" which in a way is a shame because this film showed so much promise.

"Wayne's World" is a forget-about-your-troubles comedy. Sit down, turn it up and Party On!

Wayne's World
Video
"Wayne's World" is presented in a groovy 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer from Paramount.  Though it's not a reference disc in terms of image quality I was very impressed with Paramount's efforts on the disc. One of the things that immediately grabbed me was how clean the source print was. "Wayne's World" the movie is nearly 10 years old and the print used was cleaner than many of the prints used on new day and date titles.

The film has a unique visual style that puts it ahead of your usual comedy in terms of picture quality. The detail in sets such as Wayne's basement and the thrash metal club is jaw dropping, allowing the viewer to truly see the finer details of the set design. Colors are strong while remaining very natural. 

While the print is in immaculate shape there are a few other small problems that prevent this disc from looking as good as it could. I noticed a few tiny pixelation problems throughout the film as well some edge enhancement. 

Overall an excellent transfer that makes "Wayne's World" look as if it were filmed yesterday and not nearly 10 years ago. Party On Paramount!

Audio
Originally released theatrically back in 1992, "Wayne's World" just missed out on the new sound format known then as Dolby AC-3 now more commonly known as Dolby Digital. The laserdisc release in 1994 also stuck with Dolby Surround as the audio format. However for the DVD release Paramount has gone back to the audio masters and created an all new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix and Wayne and Garth have never sounded so good.

The last time I saw "Wayne's World" was back around the video release and I watched it on a small mono TV with a built in speaker.  It's hard to believe I was once happy watching a pan and scanned VHS tape on a 2 head VCR with mono sound.  Oh, how a few years can change someone.

The 5.1 mix on "Wayne's World" isn't going to knock your socks off but it was better than I was expecting. For the most part Wayne's World is a dialogue driven comedy with a cool rock music soundtrack. The music stays in the front of the soundstage with occasional spill over to the back during the concert sequences. The surrounds are used a couple of times for some ambient sounds but aside from an airplane fly over, they don't get much of a work out here. Dialogue is clear and free of distortion, so you can hear all the witty jokes without having to strain your ears.

Wayne's World's has never sounded so good but even so there were a couple missed opportunities for the sound designers. A better than average track considering the age and nature of the mix.

Wayne's World
Extras
In a way fans of this movie should consider themselves lucky that Paramount took their time in releasing this title. If this movie had been released earlier on in studio history the resulting disc might have been different than the one that's currently on store shelves.  However if your a fan of Wayne and Garth the wait is now over and it's now time to Party On.

What the disc lacks in number of extras it makes up in quality with an excellent audio commentary with director Penelope Spheeris being the main attraction on the disc. While it would have been cool to hear Mike Myers and Dana Carvey talk about their alter egos, I suspect it wasn't possible to get the two guys in the same location at the same time or for long enough to record a cool track.  So instead the director talks about the film. At the beginning I was a bit disappointed that Myers and Carvey weren't on hand but I got over that quickly as the commentary started rolling. Spheeris who's previous work was primarily documentaries, talks about making the switch to comedy as well as how they shot the film in such a short period of time (34 Days). There were some interesting on-set stories about how Mike saw the scene one way and Dana and Penelope another, and how they shot all the different approaches and then really brought the film together in the editing room.  Another interesting segment of the commentary was when she talked about how if she could do the film over she would tighten up the editing and pacing, and create a faster paced movie. I tend to agree that it could have been a bit faster paced as it moved slower than I remembered. Overall after you get passed the fact that Mike and Dana aren't around it's a great listen.

While Mike and Dana couldn't record a full length audio commentary they aren't totally absent from the supplemental features, they join Tia (Schwing) Carrere, Rob Lowe and SNL Producer Lorne Micheals for a 23 minute featurette entitled "Extreme Closeup". "Extreme Closeup" features interviews with all the primary stars and players involved with the film.  Topics discussed included how "Wayne's World" was expanded from it's 5 minute TV skit origin to the big screen and how the characters of Wayne and Garth came into being. Myers being a Canadian, based the character of Wayne and surroundings on life in suburban Ontario.  An interesting look that only suggests what nuggets of information Mike and Dana could have shared with the viewers if they had recorded a full length track. 

Also available are trailers for Wayne's World, something called "Sunburn" and a short clip from "The Brady Bunch". All of these can be found by clicking around on the various channels on the TV Grid like menu.

Another one to scratch off the list of classic comedies not on DVD. If your a fan of the film then you won't be disappointed with this disc. Excellent audio/video quality and a decent handful of extras makes "Wayne's World" a worthy purchase. Schwing!


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