25 years ago today, one of the best rock and roll movies of all time was released: Wayne’s World. To celebrate Cineplex is hosting screenings today at select locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. (Looks like we’ll have to watch online or on DVD here in Winnipeg). Theatres across the US held special screenings last week (Feb 7th & 8th ) featuring a pre-recorded, post-film roundtable discussion with director Penelope Spheeris, Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers and select cast members. Paramount Home Media Distribution is releasing a Wayne’s World double feature via DVD and digital HD today and the film’s iTunes edition includes new digital extras like a director’s commentary and making-of feature.
The movie is credited with reinvigorating Alice Cooper’s career, catapulting Led Zeppelin to legendary status to a whole new generation and brought Queen’s Bohemian Rhaposody back onto the Billboard charts for the second time.
I dug around for some fun facts to share on the anniversary of one of my favourite movies of all time. Here are 25 things you might have known about the film and the people who helped make it.
On the Characters and Actors:
1) The character of Wayne Campbell is loosely based on Mike Myers’ own teenage years in his parents’ basement in Scarborough, Ontario. Wayne first appeared in skits for renowned Toronto improv group Second City. Myers further refined the character on the Canadian TV series “City Limits”. Fellow Canadian Lorne Michaels then hired Meyers for Saturday Night Live and history was made.
2) The character of Garth is an amalgamation of a childhood friend of Meyers’ and Dana Carvey’s real-life brother Brad, who, like Garth, enjoys red licorice, video, and plays the drums. In Wayne’s World 2, Garth can be seen wearing a Video Toaster t-shirt, a nod to the special-effects computer Brad helped create.
3) Tia Carrere allegedly turned down a role on Baywatch to play Wayne’s love interest, Cassandra.
4) The character of Cassandra was inspired by Wendy O. Williams of the Plasmatics.
5) SNL producer Lorne Michaels had a hand in hiring Rob Lowe to play TV producer Benjamin Oliver. Allegedly he came really cheap, because he couldn’t get a job after his 1989 sex tape scandal. (Side notes: Not laughing while Carvey’s Garth crazily hammered a robotic hand was nearly impossible for Lowe. Also, Wayne’s World may or may not be the first time Lowe would use “literally” in the comic sense that would become his Parks and Rec character’s catchphrase some 20 years later)
6) Wayne’s World was Chris Farley’s feature film debut. He played a security guard for Alice Cooper. Farley returned as the plaid-wearing long-haired Milton in Wayne’s World 2.
7) Alice Cooper says people often do the “we’re not worthy” kneel & bow in airports. Sometimes he lets them kiss the ring.
8) Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick, who makes a cameo as a police officer in the film, still has fans come up to him and ask “Have you seen this boy?”
On the Music:
9) When Garth plays the drums in Cassell’s Music, that’s really Carvey drumming.
10) Tia Carrere can really sing too. She’s recorded five albums and won two Grammys.
11) The famous Bohemian Rhapsody scene brought the song back onto radio airwaves and the Billboard charts for the second time since its release in 1975. (The scene was allegedly inspired by Myers’ experience singing the song in the car with his friends.)
12) The use of the legendary Queen song almost didn’t happen: Lorne Michaels was pushing for a Guns N Roses song instead.
13) The “No Stairway To Heaven” joke from the music store came about because of copyright and fair use laws. According to the director “Stairway to Heaven was limited to three notes, then we cut it back to two notes, then the studio went back and cut it down even further. The joke still worked.”
On the Film’s Success:
14) When Wayne’s World debuted on Valentine’s Day 1992, it shot to number one during its opening weekend grossing $18 million.
15) Which is pretty great considering the film only cost $14 million to make.
16) It was the eighth most successful film of 1992 pulling in more than $121 million. (The top three films that year were Aladdin, Home Alone 2 and Batman Returns)
17) Wayne’s World remains the top-grossing SNL spinoff of all time ahead of The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World 2.
On Director Penelope Spheeris
18) Spheeris got her start directing music videos and is the director of one of the most notable music documentary series of all time: The Decline of Western Civilization. Pt. I – the L.A. Punk Scene, Pt. II The Metal Years, Pt. III revisits the punk scene 20 years later and Pt. IV is supposedly in the works.
19) She was one of the first female directors to helm a film that grossed over $100 million. (The first was Penny Marshall with 1988’s Big.)
20) Spheeris was not asked to direct Wayne’s World 2 over creative differences with Meyers (but that’s ok, cause it bombed relative to the success of the original grossing only $48 million).
21) Spheeris went on to direct Chris Farley in Black Sheep. (She also did the 1994 Little Rascals movie, aww)
Other fun facts
22) Breaking of the fourth wall, where a character addresses the audience, temporarily leaving their fictional world is common in modern comedies now, but was ahead of its time in 1992.
23) Wayne’s World was reportedly supposed to be set in Aurora, Ont., with doughnut shop scenes at Tim Hortons. But in an effort to Americanize the production, the location was changed to the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Ill., complete with a fictional hangout: Stan Mikita’s Donuts. The former Chicago Blackhawks centreman Stan Mikita was born in Slovakia, but raised in St. Catharines, Ont.
24) Though the movie is set in a suburb of Chicago, only two days of the 34-day shoot were spent in Chicago. The rest was shot in Los Angeles.
25) The city of Aurora, Illinois is marking the anniversary with an expansive six-month celebration that runs from February 3rd through July 4th. “Party On! 25 Years of Wayne’s World” will include roughly a dozen events, including a look-alike contest, air-guitar competition, movie screenings and a doughnut tasting. #partyonaurora