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Blu-ray Review: Wayne’s World

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Confession time: up until this recent viewing, I had not seen Wayne's World since college. In order to accurately transmit my age for all to see, I have fond memories of purchasing a VHS copy of the movie during one of McDonald's promotions back in '93, I guess it was. "For a limited time" if you bought an Extra Value Meal (now with more value), you could purchase one of four VHS movies for like five bucks or so. Wayne's World was the only decent one on offer, but I was driving back to school after a brief visit home and jumped on it. I was looking for party time, and I wanted it to be excellent.

So the image of Wayne and Garth and their amazing hair lives in that nostalgic, pizza-fueled part of my brain where the sight of a portable CD player sitting on the dashboard of Garth's car, or a cassette tape of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" ker-chunking into the deck, doesn't seem so ridiculous. And neither does that hulking VHS tape that was tossed in more boxes for more dorm and apartment moves during college than I care to remember. In fact, it seems quaintly romantic, when compared with the newfangled Blu-ray players and uncompressed surround sound audio tracks that the kids use for entertainment these days. Back in my day we had garage sale televisions with rabbit ears and no more than thirteen inches, and we liked it!

But welcome to the future: Wayne's World is now available in high definition for you and your stoner friends with gainful employment. Mike Myers' hockey hair will show maximum detail. Dana Carvey's drum solo will have better sound presence. And Tia Carrere (Schwing!) will rock you like a hurricane. But does this early '90s comedy really take advantage of a Blu-ray treatment? Let's check it out.

The Movie

Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar like to rock it out in their basement. Hard. And they do so with some buddies on their own public access television show, Wayne's World. Both lucky and unlucky for them, a sleazy TV producer (but really, is there any other kind?) named Benjamin (Rob Lowe) decides to buy the show on the cheap, and use it to generate ad revenue from a chain of video arcades. He shoots, he scores, because they totally fall for it.

Along the way, Wayne hooks up with uber-babe Cassandra (Tia Carrere), after seeing her band, Crucial Taunt, totally wail at the Gasworks. They're intensity in ten cities! They fall in love – Wayne because she's a total fox, and Cassandra because Wayne knows Mandarin and has a black t-shirt wardrobe – and things are more or less rocking. Garth, meanwhile, falls in love with the girl at the donut shop (good call!), but is too scared to talk to her (no way!). And basically, everyone lives happily ever after. Until… Benjamin starts throwing around his dickishness, messing with their show, and trying to steal Wayne's girl.

Will our heroes triumph? Since this is a comedy it's hard to say. Chances are good that everyone will die and the earth will implode on itself. Either that or things will somehow works themselves out in about an hour-and-a-half. It could really go either way, but one of those things will definitely, probably, most likely happen.

Video / Audio

Wayne's World receives a fairly unremarkable video transfer. Part of the issue could have to do with the source footage, as overall the image is prone to flat detail and a mostly soft focus. It looks adequately better than an upconverted DVD. But not by much. However, it's probably as solid as it's going to look. This film is really only meant as an efficient comedy vehicle, and suffers a similar technical fate as most genre films of the time. If you're studying black levels, you'll be disappointed, but also missing the point. But overall, this is still the version to beat.

Audio fares a bit better. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track delivers a noticeable punch, which is nice considering that this is a music-heavy film. The front sound field handles most of the work, but the rear speakers deliver just enough ambient push to fill out the sound. The age and genre of the film don't really necessitate much more, but all things considered this is an above average audio track.

Bonus Materials

Bonus materials for this release are scant at best. "Extreme Close-Up" (SD, 23:14) is a featurette with the cast and crew looking back at the movie and sharing anecdotes of its creation. It's an entertaining addition, and everyone involved seems to genuinely have fond memories from making the film. A bit generic? Perhaps, but it's a fun extra. What's not fun is the audio commentary by director Penelope Spheeris. She gives a tedious, and rather annoying, chat during the film that is low on substance and high on pointing out the obvious as scenes unfurl. Best to avoid this one, as the only genuinely interesting tidbits are given more succinctly during the featurette. Finally, there is the movie trailer (HD, 2:06), for those who really don't have time to watch the whole movie.

Conclusion

Wayne's World is a genuinely funny film, and although it helped start a trend of largely unfortunate SNL-to-movie projects, it rose above its limitations to deliver a solid win. Plus it has a prototype "That's what she said" joke; it's that groundbreaking. On a technical level, this is only a mediocre showing for a Blu-ray, but still its best presentation yet. But whether a rental or a new purchase, the film shows Mike Myers and Dana Carvey at their most endearing. Yes, way.

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