Monday, June 28, 2010

Wayne's World

Wayne's World screens tonight, Monday June 28th at 9:00pm as part of an SNL double feature with MacGruber. It screens again Wednesday June 30th at 7:00pm.

Wayne's World is a great example of a film that no one thought would really succeed. It was based on an SNL sketch that no one had faith in at first and was brought to then SNL head writer Conan O' Brien by a talent that everyone thought was still green and still had a lot to learn about the business.

In the book Live From New York, O' Brein stated that the first script young Mike Meyers ever pitched was Wayne's World. O' Brien thought it needed a lot of work and sent Meyers back to the drawing board by telling him that he had to have ideas far better than this one if he wanted to survive. The very next week Meyers resubmitted the Wayne's World sketch with absolutely no revisions. O' Brien felt sorry for the young man and convinced SNL producer Lorne Michaels to put the sketch on anyway, albeit at the dreaded 12:50am time slot; ten minutes before the show ended and long considered to be the graveyard where sketches go to die a quiet death.

Meyers had always said he wanted to play Wayne, but he never really cared who played Garth. Dana Carvey was brought in simply as a hired gun for the role, and even from the start it was pretty obvious who the "creative genius" of the pair was. They never resented each other and on screen they made for a formidable duo, but even Carvey admitted in the same book that he always felt that Wayne and Garth were nothing more than a riff on Bill and Ted.

Then something miraculous happened. The sketch was so memorable and quotable that when he went in to work on Monday morning, Meyers found interns and staff members constantly singing the theme to the sketch. From that point on Wayne's World became a staple of the late night show and shone as a bright spot during what many people considered to be the darkest years in the history of the show.

Lorne Michaels had been looking for quite some time to turn a sketch into a feature film (the first with any SNL involvement since The Blues Brothers) and Wayne's World became the most obvious choice. From there, the little sketch that could became the first and only SNL film to gross more than $100 million dollars at the box office. It became a part of pop culture history with several memorable scenes (the headbanging sing-along to Queen, Alice Cooper's cameo, and a hilarious series of rapid fire sight gags involving product placement) and is quite possibly the most accessible and well liked film of Meyer's career next to Shrek.

Wayne's World never suffered the backlash that pretty much all of Meyer's other high profile efforts have suffered from, and that is for a very good reason. Wayne's World is just a great time at the movies. It's not brain science or rocket surgery. It's just a party. I say, party on!

Also, with the exception of The Blues Brothers and MacGruber, it is one of only 3 great films based on SNL characters, making it only one of 3 good films that Lorne Michaels has had his name attached to.

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