Wayne's World 2 (1993) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sex-related dialogue and language
Running time: 94 min.
Cast: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tia Carrere, Christopher Walken, Ralph Brown, Michael A. Nickles, James Hong, Kim Basinger, Chris Farley, RIp Taylor, Aerosmith, Lee Tergensen, Dan Bell, Olivia d'Abo, Frank DiLeo, Kevin Pollak, Harry Shearer, Ted McGinley
Cameo: Heather Locklear, Bob Odenkirk, Robert Smigel, Bobby Slayton, Drew Barrymore, Jay Leno, Charlton Heston, Ed O'Neill, Tim Meadows
Director: Stephen Surjik
Screenplay: Mike Myers, Bonnie Turner, Terry Turner
Review published June 23, 2008
After Wayne's World became a surprise hit, becoming not only the highest grossing film based on an SNL skit, but also among the top 10 biggest money makers of 1992, it was inevitable that a sequel would follow. Wayne's World 2 as an amiable sequel, and not without some solid laughs, but these laughs come at the expense of the original concept, and caters to a much older fan base. Instead of aiming at the audience the age of Wayne and Garth, the jokes are more in keeping with the demographic that their portrayers, Mike Myers (So I Married an Axe Murderer, Austin Powers) and Dana Carvey (The Master of Disguise, Opportunity Knocks) belong to. References to Woodstock, Jim Morrison, The Graduate, An Officer and a Gentleman, old kung fu movies, TV's "Batman", Sammy Davis Jr., commercials for Calgon and "Keep America Beautiful", the Village People, and a plethora of other pop culture references, while funny to someone who is old enough to appreciate them, will most likely fly way over the head of the teenage audience. What was once a hip local show alternative for teens is now guilty of trying to cater to every fan base, and in the process, they've become the commercial product they were railing against so heavily in the first film.
The sequel continues some time after the first one left off, with Wayne and Garth moving out of their parents houses and into their own swinging "babe lair" where they broadcast out of an abandoned doll factory. Wayne has a crazy dream (or is it?) in which he meets Jim Morrison (Nickles, License to Drive), who tells him that he needs to put on a concert in Aurora with big time music acts ("If you book them, they will come," Jim asserts). Wayne and Garth immediately set out to England to bring back the world's greatest roadie, Del Preston (Brown, Alien 3) , to try to secure the big acts they need to succeed in drawing the big crowds. However, distractions and obstacles present themselves, including Wayne's jealousy with his girlfriend Cassandra (Carrere, True Lies), whose music career has taken off, for spending too much time with her producer, Bobby (Walken, True Romance).
Wayne's World 2 kicks off well, with one pleasantly funny scene after another, mostly riffing off of gags they developed in the first film. The writing is more polished, the direction more adept with newcomer Stephen Surjik (the first film's director, Penelope Spheeris, passed on the sequel due to constant creative differences with Myers), and more creativity given to expanding the scope of the world Wayne and Garth inhabit. Perhaps too far, as eventually the film no longer remembers its one-set origin and merely becomes a retread of "Beavis and Butthead", going out on the town getting into all forms of misadventures without much of a thematic consistency to tie together.
For instance, Garth finally finds a woman in cougar Honey Hornee (Basinger, Final Analysis), who comes onto him at a laundromat, seduces him, and takes his virginity (one presumes). Eventually this affair leads to a revelation that, in an homage to Double Indemnity, she's actually still married and wants Garth to do something about her no-good husband once and for all. Painted into a corner, the subplot hits a dead end and it's quickly ditched soon after, one of many chances the film takes that doesn't pay off. Garth also gets into a pseudo romance with what looks to be a female version of himself, Betty Jo (d'Abo, Batman Beyond: The Movie), but that angle also goes nowhere, just another in a series of ideas that are trotted out and abandoned due to the inability to mine anything more than the initial sight gag.
One could forgive minor subplots that are DOA, so long as the laughs keep coming otherwise, but soon Myers and co. push the thin material beyond the ability for even his creative mind to sustain comedic momentum. This is especially true of the two bigger storylines, the proposed concert (Wayne dubs it "Waynestock") and Wayne's strained relationship with Cassandra. Whereas the first film always managed to be true to the characters, Wayne's World 2 ditches the characters in favor of going for bigger and better, and the notion that Wayne and Garth are simpletons from a simple town is no longer part of the formula.
The end of the film has Cassandra marry Bobby, not because her character as established ever would, but merely to deliver an extended parody of The Graduate, that is mostly just a recreation with a few comedic bits thrown in. Of course, the film sets up for a big concert finale, as the Waynestock crowd gets restless for the big show to begin, and we in the movie audience for it to end. There's no big payoff for the big set-up, except to see Aerosmith perform the second of two songs in concert for the movie.
Wayne's World 2 isn't likely to displease fans of the characters outright so much as disappoint them that so much money, energy and ideas would be tossed in without a payoff to the buildup. It's no longer focused enough even to be a skit comedy, eventually becoming just a spoof of anything and everything, but then even that fails. Myers keeps tossing out sight gag distractions, each one piled higher than other, in the hope that we'll be too entertained to notice he has no more clues on where to go with his film. By the end, we realize it's just a shaggy dog story with shaggy mullets.
©2008 Vince Leo