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Film review: Wayne's World

Published: Monday, Aug. 25 2003 10:39 a.m. MDT

Those "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" ripoffs, Wayne & Garth, leap from their popular "Saturday Night Live" skit to the big screen in "Wayne's World." Well, maybe not leap. Limp might be more like it.

The film allows the boys to maintain their valley boy accents, the steady stream of pop-culture references and Wayne's smug-hip attitude, adding to the mix an off-the-wall sense of humor in the "Naked Gun" vein.

But, as is often the case with TV skits that are turned into movies, "Wayne's World" wears out its welcome after awhile and is never quite as funny as it thinks it is.

That isn't to say that fans of the characters played by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey will be disappointed — they probably won't. But this film won't win over any converts, either.

The nominal story has Wayne and Garth being approached by a high-rolling TV producer (Rob Lowe) who sees the boys' late-night cable access program as a potential moneymaker for commercial television. So he schmoozes himself into their trust and buys them out for the phenomenal sum of $5,000 each.

Naturally, when the day finally comes to do the show out of a high-tech studio instead of Wayne's basement, it's been sanitized into unrecognizability, forcing Wayne to take a stand.

Secondary plotting involves Wayne's pursuit of a rock singer (Tia Carrere, who is quite appealing), Lowe's pursuit of her as well, Garth's love from afar for a waitress (Donna Dixon), the sleazeball sponsor (Brian Doyle-Murray) and his ditzy wife (Colleen Camp), Wayne's klutzy ex-girlfriend (Lara Flynn Boyle, from TV's "Twin Peaks," who is awful) and a number of unbilled cameos (Ed O'Neill of "Married . . . With Children," Alice Cooper, etc.).

There are some funny bits here and Myers and Carvey are quite good together, but the script (concocted by Myers and fellow "Saturday Night Live" writers Bonnie and Terry Turner) offers too many lame gags that fall flat. In fact, even the better ideas too often are unrealized, as when their TV program is altered to more closely resemble network programming. The resulting gags seem half-hearted.

Worse, even when jokes do play well, the target audience often doesn't get them. At least that's what happened at the screening I attended. These kids just aren't old enough to know "Laverne and Shirley" or "Sergeant York." Even a "Terminator 2" bit flew past most of the audience, which failed to recognize Robert Patrick, the actor who portrayed the evil terminator in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

Director Penelope Spheeris, best known for two documentaries on L.A.'s punk-rock scene, was probably not the best choice to direct "Wayne's World," which cries out for someone with the sensibility of the Zucker Brothers ("Airplane!" the "Naked Gun" movies) to guide it. And someone who can make Myers' condescending, chauvinistic character maintain his charm for 95 minutes.

No doubt the kids who love this stuff want Wayne to be as smart-alecky as possible, not realizing he's smirking at them as much as the "establishment." And probably none of this will matter to fans of "Saturday Night Live," or the "Wayne's World" skits in particular.

In fact, the biggest laughs seemed to come from the most sophomoric moments — Myers parading around in his underwear and mugging wildly, for example.

I guess you had to be there.

Not!!!

"Wayne's World" is rated PG-13 for vulgarity, profanity, comic violence and sex.

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