Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Art is subjective. Music and movies aren’t about competition; they’re about artistic expression. Well, for those of you who know better than to believe those lies, welcome to another installment of Vs. This time, we definitively determine which Wayne’s World movie parties harder.
A lot can be said about Wayne’s World since Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar first schwinged their way into theaters 25 years ago on Valentine’s Day. We could break down how it blended rock and roll, sketch comedy, and pop-culture unlike any film before it. We could harp on about how it set a dizzying bar for SNL movies, became arguably the most quotable comedy of a generation, and remains a time capsule of early ’90s slackerdom. Or, if we wanted to get more personal, we could talk about how it was our ultimate weekend rental as young teens, a non-Hughesian rite de passage, and one of the first films of ours that we caught our parents giggling at after they thought we had fallen asleep.
Or, here’s something you can scribble on the back of your note cards: The sequel didn’t blow goats!!!
That sounds like a minor feat to focus on until you think about the massive flock of ’90s sequels that did indeed fellate goats. Some might chalk up the second installment’s appeal to the surprise, runaway success of the original. Less than two years after Wayne and Garth stormed Hollywood by way of Aurora, the same beloved characters found themselves again on the big screen. But what a different flick. While the beats, bad guys, and babes were similar, our favorite cable-access co-hosts were sprung from Wayne’s basement (“sans parents”) and emerged into a world that spun pop culture, Hollywood in particular, on its head fast enough to make you hurl. Find another film of that era — or any era, for that matter — that could send up both the biggest blockbuster hit of that same summer (Jurassic Park) and pay a lengthy and faithful homage to arguably the greatest coming-of-age film in history (The Graduate), never once second guessing itself or breaking from the mental hijinks of its irreverent stars.
Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2 remain side-clutchingly excellent more than two decades later. Which is the better flick? Well, that may come down to whether you prefer crullers or sugar pucks, partying at The Gasworks or Komrades, or hanging backstage with Frankensteins or dudes who look like ladies. Never ones to shirk our duties (or pass up a chance to ride in the Mirthmobile), we decided to break down 13 categories to determine once and for all which Wayne’s World movie parties hardest. Ix-nay on the condescension-ay there, Chet, but if you do have comments, share them below. We’ll be sure to read them … oh, and monkeys might fly out of our butts.
Game on! In five, four, three, <two>, <one>…
Extreme Close-Up: I’m going to be frank. (“Okay, can I still be Garth?”) The DNA of these two movies aren’t quite Home Alone and Home Alone 2 levels of identical, but the beats are pretty damn similar. In each, Wayne wants something more in his life (to do his show for a living, to put on a festival in Aurora), self-sabotages his own quest and relationship with a little help from a slick-haired villain, and finally rallies just in time to handpick a happier ending than he probably deserves. The original really focused on what the stars of SNL’s most popular cable-access skit might be like outside Wayne’s parents’ basement while the sequel had to find new territory and concoct some kind of adventure that guys like Wayne and Garth could conceivably find themselves on. Both setups work as vehicles for these characters, but there’s a charm to the original that the second can’t quite touch, even though it’s arguably the most brilliant parody film of its time. There’s something so identifiable about Wayne and co. cruising to jams, pulling pranks in the Mirthmobile, and sitting down to the same donuts and coffee each night. If only for 90 minutes, the humdrum suburban ruts most of us found ourselves in each weekend seemed just a little more excellent and a bit less heinous. –Matt Melis
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (1-0)
With You As Always Is Garth
Extreme Close-Up: Garth has always been the soft-spoken neurotic, ably supporting Wayne in whatever conquest suits him — the Jim to his Marlin Perkins, if you will. He’s comfortable with this role, though, and he thrives on being on the periphery, where he can tend to his own devices while also keeping his co-host in check. Although he doesn’t have much of a storyline in the original, outside of trying to use the bathroom and get past dweeb-hating monsters, he’s certainly the brains of the whole operation. Whether he’s creating robotic hands to strangle Benjamin or recalibrating satellites to reach Mr. Big’s limo, Garth seemingly always has the answers, even solving Wayne’s romantic crisis with Cassandra. But, there’s no disputing the fact that he gets a much more expanded role in the sequel. In addition to finally getting pubes, he becomes romantically involved with Kim Basinger’s scheming Honey Horneé, resulting in some of the most excellent Zucker-esque gags, and even wins the heart of his Unix-loving doppelgänger, Betty Jo (Olivia Jane d’Abo). Watching the two chew red rope licorice together at Waynestock — the good kind, not the bad stuff that’s been circulating around the crowd — is the happy ending everyone wanted for the jittery, flanneled gimp. –Michael Roffman
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World 2 (1-1)
Most Bogus Villain
Extreme Close-Up: Clearly, Christopher Walken’s Bobby hunts as the alpha in this pack of babe-stealing mongrels. Despite Benjamin’s (Rob Lowe) cherry convertible, fully functional babe lair, and fluent takeout Cantonese, all evidence points to him being a relatively low-level parasitic television producer slumming for his next Shakey’s hostess. Bobby, on the other hand, carries hit-producer credentials, shreds like Van Halen, and probably ghost wrote those picking-up-chicks books that Benjamin keeps stashed. But does being the more formidable adversary make him the better villain? Bobby counts Wayne as just another in a long line of inconsequential boyfriends who need brushed aside and only later sets his oglers on Cassandra’s (the inimitable Tia Carrere) charms; Wayne could be “Dwayne” or an old man fashioning a kayak from a log for all Bobby cares. However, Benjamin has made it a personal mission — it’s scribbled in his agenda, for Heather Locklear’s sake — to exploit Wayne’s World and soon decides that if he can steal Wayne’s show, he can pilfer his babe as well. Ben and Jerry’s may make a nasty flavor in Bobby’s honor one day, but it’s hard to imagine anything grosser than the aftertaste of Benjamin’s Pralines and Dick. Here, spew in this. –Matt Melis
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (2-1)
Best Dudes and Babes (Supporting Cast)
Extreme Close-Up: It’s a little unfair to compare the two supporting casts. Reason being, the original film was a surprise blockbuster hit, a gamble that paid off handsomely for Paramount Pictures and producer Lorne Michaels. So, the sequel naturally attracted more star power, which is why you see random cameos from Heather Locklear, Charlton Heston, Drew Barrymore, Harry Shearer, Kim Basinger, Jay Leno, Kevin Pollack, and the list goes on. To its credit, the sequel capitalizes on all the talent, especially when the stars escape into larger-than-life roles (see: Shearer’s Handsome Dan or Pollack’s Jerry “Partial Ocular Albino” Segel), but with the exception of Ralph Brown’s nutbar Del Preston, they all feel like little gasps. There’s an inherent innocence to the original’s cast, that everyone involved were in on the joke long before anyone else, and as such, the corollary characters feel less like pop-ins and more like lived-in personalities. Kurt Fuller’s Russell Finley is a great example. As Benjamin’s “cheesy” assistant, Russell follows each order with due diligence — after all, Benjamin’s his friend — but slowly we see him slip out of the gamma ray, even joining Wayne’s team, where, thanks to Terry, he learns that “platonic love can exist between two grown men.” That type of bizarre growth for supporting characters just doesn’t happen in the sequel. –Michael Roffman
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (3-1)
We’re Not Worthy! (Best Musical Guest)
Extreme Close-Up: By all counts, this should be a walk in Adlai Stevenson Park for Aerosmith. When the sequel came out in 1993, the entire rock and roll world was still sucking on the teat of Grip, one of the biggest rock albums in history. Wayne’s World 2 starts backstage at a ‘smith concert and ends with the band emerging from The MirthLimo to play “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” and “Shut Up and Dance” at Waynestock. They nailed the part of biggest band in the world perfectly, but that’s all they did; it more or less came across as Aerosmith product placement. Where was the playfulness of their Wayne’s World visit just a few years prior on SNL, when Wayne and Garth jammed with the Boston boys to their theme song and lobbed them softball interview questions about Steven Tyler’s lips and the fall of communism? Then you have Alice Cooper, an act that nobody my age knew in the early ’90s, capturing our teen imaginations in the original with his ironic mix of gore and riding crops with a Ward Cleaver demeanor and local-history lessons. Twenty-five years later, nobody other than Wayne’s World diehards points to Aerosmith’s role in the series while The Godfather of Shock Rock probably hasn’t played a show since without fan boys prostrating before him or asking if he comes to Milwaukee often. This is one of the few times that Aerosmith can stay home and lick the cat’s butt. –Matt Melis
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (4-1)
You Really Wail! (Best Soundtrack)
Extreme Close-Up: Wayne’s World and rock ‘n’ roll go together like hurl and lung butter, which is why both soundtracks test very high on the rock-ability scale. And since the series curiously toed the line between ’80s hard rock and ’90s alternative, they’re also a little all over the place stylistically, mixing up acts like Cinderella and Red Hot Chili Peppers or Dinosaur Jr. and Aerosmith. What separates the two is how the first film sounds very of its time — or, at the very least, like an echo of the late ’80s and early ’90s — whereas the sequel comes off like an ode to ’60s and ’70s rock. Sure, the original has its share of classics, specifically Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Gary Wright’s “Dream Weaver”, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Foxy Lady”, but they’re wedged between weird stuff like BulletBoys’ “Rock Candy” or Rhino Bucket’s “Ride With Yourself”. Even veterans like Clapton, Sabbath, and Cooper offered up newer tracks for the album, and let’s not forget Tia “Baberham Lincoln” Carrere’s catchy rock ballad “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” and her sizzling cover of The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz”. Altogether, there’s something wholly iconic about this collection of songs, namely because they’re mostly signature to this film as opposed to the more ubiquitous FM hits of the sequel that have been used elsewhere (see: Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky”, Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”, The Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”, and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”). Having said that, not a day passes where I don’t think about Aerosmith’s “Shut Up and Dance” and the promise they made on that one perfect day at Waynestock. –Michael Roffman
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (5-1)
Extreme Close-Up: The original, like the SNL skit, was a send-up of (maybe even an homage to) a certain suburban slacker metalhead type who had brains, questionable work ethic, and a low tolerance for bullshit. The sequel, however, turned outward and looked mostly around Tinsel Town, where Wayne and Garth had recently become the toast, for its gags and laughs. Sure, the first film toe-dipped into parodies via commercials (see: Nuprin and Grey Poupon), television (Laverne & Shirley!), and an inspired Robert Patrick cameo, but the second film delivers some of the great film spoofs of all time. From Wayne and Garth’s reptilian run-in (Jurassic Park) and Jim Morrison’s Field of Dreams mantra to Garth’s Some Like It Hot morning with Honey Horneé and the alternative girl-power ending (Thelma & Louise), the film seamlessly pulls from all manner of Hollywood hits from multiple eras. And, of course, we have the brilliant homage to The Graduate, fitting because Wayne, too, is figuring out his life, just like Ben Braddock, beautifully shot and hilariously lampooned: the chickens, watermelon, and glass window; the Simon and Garfunkel cutting out in the tunnel; the Chuck Heston cameo; and the wrong church gag. All excellent, even if you had never seen the film that inspired it all. –Matt Melis
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World 2 (5-2)
Best Original Gags
Extreme Close-Up: One obvious distinction between the two films is how the sequel leans heavily on parodies (see above). Although Stephen Surjik filled in for Penelope Spheeris, who butted heads with star Mike Myers during the filming of the original, the whole film feels like it was directed by one of the Zuckers, thanks to its manic parodies that lampoon just about every token slice of pop culture prior to 1993. To be fair, the original is guilty of this, too, but it’s built on an original story that doesn’t tear off pieces from Field of Dreams, Pet Sematary, The Doors, or The Graduate. As such, the original skits of the first film overwhelm anything that came in the sequel, but that’s not to say the second outing is without its share of originality. Wayne and Garth’s all-expenses paid trip to London, where they meet Del and flip through vintage photos of his old lady, is hilariously refreshing, as is their initial pitch of Waynestock to Bobby, which includes the ever-irreverent gag of seeing an old man fashioning a kayak out of a log. But then you think back to its predecessor and remember real out-there oddities like Garth’s Mr. Donut Head Man, Stacey’s asinine gun-rack gift, or Benjamin’s spiel on champagne and you recall why you laughed, you cried, and you hurled your way through the film again and again and again. –Michael Roffman
And the Sugar Puck Goes To: Wayne’s World (6-2)