As ‘Wayne’s World’ turns 30, here’s the who, what, where and NO WAY of a very silly hit
While it’s set in Aurora, the ‘SNL’ spinoff movie was made in California — except for some shots of kitschy landmarks all over the Chicago area.
It’s “Wayne’s World,” and we’re just living in his basement.
Valentine’s Day, 1992. That was the release date for an unassuming, relatively low-budget and very silly comedy based on a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that was based on a Canadian TV segment and featured two guys who appeared to be in their 30s but acted like teenagers and peppered their conversation with catchphrases such as, “I’m having a good time … NOT!” and “Shyeah, right, and monkeys might fly out of my butt!” and “That’s what she said!”
Filled with meta humor and good cheer, sly dialogue and semi-heavy metal and with a terrific comedic cast led by Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, “Wayne’s World” grossed $183 million worldwide (on a budget of $20 million) and remains the most successful “Saturday Night Live” feature adaptation of all time.
With Wayne’s 30th anniversary around the corner, let’s pull up a couple of stools at Stan Mikita’s Donut Shop and revisit his world.
So how old ARE Wayne and Garth?
Early on in “Wayne’s World,” Wayne breaks the fourth wall (as he will throughout the film) and says, “I still live with my parents, which I admit is both bogus and sad.”
Wayne and Garth are adults, for sure. They go to bars and clubs. They don’t have a curfew. They’re sort of independent. Myers was 29 and Carvey 37 during filming, but their ages are never specifically stated, and it appears they’re supposed to be in their early 20s.
Set in Aurora — filmed in California
“Wayne’s World” is famously set in Aurora, with frequent trips to Chicago, but, other than some second-unit establishing shots, the movie was filmed in and around Los Angeles. The famous Stan Mikita’s Donut Shop, for example, is a building on North La Brea Avenue that is now the site of Puerto Nuevo Coffee & Tacos. (The fiberglass sculpture of Mikita and the signage were set decorations.)
According to Movie-Locations.com, Wayne’s “Aurora” home is actually on Texhoma Avenue in the San Fernando Valley, while the fabulous loft where Tia Carrere’s Cassandra lives is in the California Walnut Growers Building in downtown Los Angeles — that same loft was Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Paris” workshop in “Inception.” (When Wayne and Garth take a road trip to Milwaukee to see Alice Cooper, the Paramount lot stood in for Milwaukee.)
If you revisit the scene in which Wayne and friends bang it out to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” you’ll note that the interior shots of the boys in the car are stitched together with the occasional exterior shot, and we are literally all over the place. They cruise down North Milwaukee Avenue, they pass a long-gone Automart at 3939 N. Western Ave., they zip past Chicago Joe’s on West Irving Park and Scatchell’s Beef Stand in Cicero and the Midwest Eye Clinic on South Pulaski Road, with its inexplicable Native American figure atop the roof. We even get a glorious, extended shot of the since-dismantled, 40-foot-tall, eight-car “Spindle” sculpture in Berwyn. (I don’t think the fractured geography was laziness on the part of the fantastic director Penelope Spheeris; it just adds to the kitschy, wink-wink nature of the film.)
Is this just fantasy?
As for Myers and “Bohemian Rhapsody” … When the Freddie Mercury biopic was released in 2018, there was Myers as EMI record executive Ray Foster, who tells the Queen bandmates their song “I’m in Love With My Car” is “the kind of song teenagers can crank up the volume in their car and bang their heads to. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will never be that song.”
Does the Empire Carpet Man have a cameo?
Sort of! There’s an early scene in which the oily and duplicitous Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe, in a comedic role that helped revive and reinvent his persona) is in bed in his Chicago high-rise with his girlfriend Elyse (Ione Skye), and he’s clicking across the channels — and there’s a spot for Empire Carpets.
The World According to Garth
Rewatching “Wayne’s World,” it occurred to me Carvey’s Garth Algar might be on the spectrum, and I say that in all sincerity.
Think about it. Garth studiously avoids shaking hands or returning high-fives. He has difficulty making eye contact. He has a strange moment when he crafts a figure out of jelly donuts, then furiously stabs the creation. There’s even a moment when Wayne tries to calm him down and says, “Garth, come on relax! Your pills …”
Garth’s unique personality and worldview are never totally addressed in the movie, but there’s definitely something different about Garth. Not bad, not negative, just … unique.
Chris Farley is in “Wayne’s World” for about a minute, but he still leaves an indelible impression as he describes the itinerary for record executive Frank Sharp to Wayne and Garth: “He’s going across the country right now looking for new acts … next stop St. Louis, then he’s going to come back through Chicago on his way to Detroit.”
As Wayne walks away, he turns to us and says, “You know, for a security guard, he had an awful lot of information, don’t you think?” (Later, when that itinerary proves to be useful, Wayne says, “Aren’t we lucky we were there to get all that information? It seemed extraneous at the time.”)
The late Meat Loaf also has a security-guard type cameo, playing Tiny, the bouncer at the Gasworks club. When Wayne asks Tiny who’s playing, Tiny replies, “The Jolly Green Giants and the Sh--ty Beatles.”
Wayne: “The Sh--ty Beatles, are they any good?”
Tiny: “They SUCK.”
Wayne: “So it’s not just a clever name …”
Of course, we also get Alice Cooper as Alice Cooper, who turns out to know a lot about the history of Milwaukee, and Robert Patrick reprising his T-1000 role from “Terminator 2” for no reason other than it’s hilarious.
How does Wayne feel about marriage?
When Garth wonders whether Cassandra is the one for Wayne and he’ll finally settle down and get married, Wayne replies: “Garth. Marriage is punishment for shoplifting in some countries.”
Pretty sure that’s true only in “Wayne’s World.”