Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 13, 2009)
As I related in my review of Wayne’s World, that 1992 film was an enormous - and surprising - hit. Less startling, however, was the onslaught of similar flicks that it inspired. My article about the first Wayne’s World movie discussed those, so I won’t cover all of that ground again, but it should not come as a shock that one of those offerings was 1993’s Wayne’s World 2, an inevitable sequel to the original.
Of all the many releases that World inspired, Wayne’s World 2 was the closest thing to a hit. However, after the $121 million gross of the original, the sequel’s $47 million must have been a letdown for the studio. I’d expect the results to be additionally disappointing given the film’s release positioning. While Wayne’s World hit screens in February 1992 - a relatively slow time of the year - WW2 came out in December 1993 and was positioned as a big holiday flick.
Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to the hype, and not just in regard to its financial prospects. Fans of the first film generally seem to think little of the sequel. Reactions at the time and since have indicated fairly little affection for WW2, as most people don’t feel it lives up to the heights of the original film.
Personally, I reacted differently, though expectations clearly played a major role in my opinions. When I saw Wayne’s World theatrically, it’d already become a major hit, and even my friend Kevin - a notoriously persnickety moviegoer - saw it and liked it. However, I thought the flick was a bit of a dud. It had a few fun moments, but the overall effect left me fairly cold.
My opinion has changed somewhat since that time, as you can discover in my review of the film; I’m still not wild about the movie, but I see its positives better at this point. Nonetheless, my mild dislike of World remained in my head when I saw Wayne’s World 2 during its theatrical run. I expected little, but I actually had an enjoyable experience with the flick. No, it wasn’t a classic, but it thought it seemed like a looser and more pleasant piece that better replicated the charm of the old Saturday Night Live sketches.
I hadn’t seen WW2 since then, so I was curious to discover how I felt about it all these years down the road. Not surprisingly, I enjoyed it less during this recent viewing, as my expectations for the film have changed. Back in 1993, I thought I wouldn’t like the movie at all since I didn’t care for the original. Frankly, I’m not even sure why I checked it out since I maintained such a lackluster attitude toward Wayne’s World.
Because my affection toward WW2 stayed in my head since 1993, I clearly anticipated more from it, and that was why I found it to be a minor disappointment upon second viewing. However, that shouldn’t be regarded as a dismissal of WW2. While it has a share of flaws, I still found it to be a reasonably funny and engaging film.
In some ways, WW2 is almost a remake of the first movie. Many of that flick’s characters return. Of course, leads Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) show up for the sequel, and Wayne’s girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere) - who he met and wooed during World - also comes back for the new film. Her growing success as a musician is what spurs most of the plot. Her slick record producer Bobby (Christopher Walken) has the hots for her, and he’s bent on removing Wayne from the picture.
Another storyline motivates much of the action. Wayne feels as though his life lacks purpose, but Jim Morrison (Michael A. Nickles) comes to him in a dream and tells him to stage a huge festival concert in Wayne’s hometown of Aurora, Illinois. Wayne agrees to do so, and “Waynestock” is born.
As all of this occurs, Garth finally starts to develop some interpersonal relationships with women. Although county clerk Betty Jo (Olivia D’Abo) seems perfect for him - they’re virtual clones - Garth enters into an unlikely connection with sexy older woman Honey Horneé (Kim Basinger). The motivation for her bizarre attraction becomes clear as the movie continues, but this minor sidestory provides an opportunity for Garth to develop.
Not that much of this matters, for WW2 takes its cues from the first film, and that piece offered little more than a general conglomeration of comedic bits. The plot was mainly an excuse for some fun sequences. That theme seems even more prevalent during WW2, for it appears to be less cohesive than the original, and that’s saying something. WW2 more strongly comes from the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” school of comedy.
However, since a fair number of the gags are pretty good, I won’t criticize WW2 for this plan. At this point, I think the two films are fairly equal in quality. Wayne’s World gets the edge for freshness and cohesion, but WW2 simply includes the funniest bits of the two. During World, I thought some segments were decent, but it almost never made me really laugh.
WW2, on the other hand, provided a good number of snippets that were darned funny. The film tossed in some unlikely references that caught me off guard, and many of these were terrific. For example, Chris Farley has a small part as a roadie, and he gets in a fun riff on An Officer and a Gentleman.
Speaking of Farley, one way in which WW2 tops the original comes from its supporting cast. The sequel includes a nice roster of talent, starting with Walken. Yeah, Rob Lowe was fun as Benjamin in the first film, but he’s not Walken. In addition, Basinger makes the most of her horny Horneé. I never thought Basinger was all that sexy, but she seems fiery hot in her scenes, and she showed decent comedic instincts as well.
A look through WW2’s cast listing finds a slew of additional talent. We get fine actors like Kevin Pollak, James Hong, and Harry Shearer, and a few big names pop up in additional cameos. Heck, even crummy sitcom performer Ted McGinley provides a funny turn as “Mr. Scream”. (It’ll make more sense if you see the movie.) Cameos don’t make a movie great, but they added a nice dimension to WW2.
I was interested to note the alterations in the main characters. Cassandra made the most negative growth. She really receded to the background here, and she seemed like much less of a strong personality. Cassandra came across as a tough, fun chick in WW, but here she becomes more of an appendage.
During World, I found Garth to be much more interesting than Wayne, largely due to the actor’s performances. Carvey offered a quiet and unusual turn, while Myers seemed to have a chip on his shoulder through most of the film. Surprisingly, things seem to have changed for the sequel. No, Carvey didn’t display the strangely peeved attitude shown by Myers in the first movie, but he seemed more ordinary in WW2. During World, Carvey maintained a sweetly odd disposition, but the sequel’s Garth lacks life. In addition, Carvey appeared to have aged about 30 years between films. Granted, he was always much older than Garth was supposed to be, but during some of his close-ups, Carvey appeared more eligible to play Garth’s grandfather.
On the other hand, Myers rebounded nicely from his cranky turn in the first film. The sequel’s Wayne seemed to be much more charming and engaging. He still tended to mug too much and become excessively cutesy, but this Wayne was generally fun and endearing. He seemed to better resemble the TV show’s character, and that was a good thing.
Probably the weakest aspect of WW2, however, was the fact that it stayed to close to its predecessor. Not surprisingly, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me suffered from a similar concern, as it blindly repeated many of the gags seen in Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery. WW2 better created its own identity than did Shagged, but it still went to the well too frequently.
Nonetheless, I mostly enjoyed Wayne’s World 2. It wasn’t as good as I recalled, and it could be pretty hit or miss, but as a whole, it was a worthy follow-up to a decent film.