(Welcome to The Unpopular Opinion, a series where a writer goes to the defense of a much-maligned film or sets their sights on a movie seemingly beloved by all. In this edition: the sequel to Wayne’s World is actually better than the beloved original.)
In 1993, just one short year after Wayne’s World transitioned from SNL favorite to box office hit, Paramount unleashed the sequel. Despite the fact that Wayne’s World 2 received mixed reviews and couldn’t seem to attract as many fans as the first film, it remains a hilarious and highly-underrated sequel – a delightfully silly follow-up that ups the ante while wryly (or obnoxiously, given the behind-the-scenes drama) delivering a formulaic sequel; a sort of self-aware cinematic Mad Libs. In my mind, Wayne’s World 2 belongs to the small group of comedy sequels that are better than their predecessors, like Problem Child 2 and Gremlins 2. At the very least, it should be considered just as great as the first film.
Wayne’s World 2 is Actually Good – No, Really
When Wayne’s World 2 hit theaters, I was eight years old. My dad took me to see it, and I loved it just as much as the first film. That adoration could clearly be chalked up to my age at the time, but over the years, I’ve come to appreciate it as a superior comedy sequel for many reasons, not the least of which is that Mike Myers evidently gave very few fucks when he wrote the screenplay. It does everything a sequel should do, and though many viewers and critics felt the basic premise and repeated callbacks were redundant and lazy, but that’s exactly what makes Wayne’s World 2 so funny.
The story is bigger and raises the stakes, as sequels should, but it is essentially a retread of the first film with a few minor changes – the most notable of which is the Field of Dreams-esque plot that finds Wayne visited in his dreams by a half-naked Native American and Jim Morrison, who instruct him to put on a huge concert in his hometown of Aurora, Illinois. You know the drill: “If you build it, they will come,” etc. Wayne and Garth meet some absurd new characters along the way, including Morrison’s eccentric former roadie, Del Preston (Ralph Brown), a pair of over-eager indoor kids just happy to get out of the house for an Aerosmith concert (Bob Odenkirk and Robert Smigel), radio personality “Handsome” Dan (Harry Shearer), and flirty Swedish receptionist Bjergen Kjergen (Drew Barrymore).
The song mostly remains the same, but the riffs are bigger: Wayne and Garth are still hosting Wayne’s World, which has become more popular. They go to a concert where one of their favorite bands (this time Aerosmith) plays, and when they meet the group afterwards, they bow down and shout “We’re not worthy!” Cassandra’s (Tia Carrere) fame has also grown, but her relationship with her new manager is making Wayne jealous – the sequel just basically replaces Rob Lowe with Christopher Walken. Garth is still an endearing dork when it comes to women, but now he’s dating Honey Horneé (Kim Basinger). Ed O’Neill’s Glen is still weirding everyone out with his dark monologues, which are even more severe. And Chris Farley and Lee Tergesen are still the funniest supporting actors in the whole damn thing… And so on.
Is it essentially the same movie? Yes. But again, that’s the joke. In the meta-tastic world of Wayne and Garth, the pair often break the fourth wall to address the audience and crack jokes about film tropes and the process of movie-making. Sequels are largely manufactured to capitalize on (and duplicate) the success of their predecessors, but they rarely recapture what made the first film so great. By regurgitating the basic formula and several of the jokes from the first film, Myers delivered the sequel that the studio presumably wanted. It wasn’t his original plan, but the development process that led to this outcome may explain the redundancy of the sequel – and reveals a cynical undercurrent to its humor.
Where Wayne Went Wrong
Myers knew exactly what he was doing. In 2017, SNL creator and Wayne’s World producer Lorne Michaels told THR that Myers’ original script for the sequel was loosely based on the 1949 British comedy film Passport to Pimlico. The story would follow Wayne and Garth as they discover an ancient scroll that inspires them to secede from the United States and start their own country. Myers was operating under the misguided belief that Paramount had the rights to Passport to Pimlico, putting the studio in a tight spot: If they moved forward with Myers’ idea, they’d be facing a potential lawsuit. They could try to obtain the rights, but that would severely delay production.
And so Sherry Lansing, who was the chief of Paramount at the time, called Myers into her office to demand he rewrite the screenplay. According to one person who was present at the meeting, Lansing “said, ‘How dare you? How dare you put us in this position?’ She turned to Mike and said, ‘We’ll sue you. We’ll take your f—ing house. You won’t even own a f—ing home.’” Lansing proceeded to make up a story about how a bunch of lawyers were sitting in a room with a Paramount exec “figuring out how they can take every single thing away from” Myers. After the meeting, he “was so shaken that he curled up in a fetal position on Lansing’s couch.”
With his original idea tossed out, Myers had to come up with a new one – and fast. The end result feels like a response to that meeting, and to a studio that wanted a quick turnaround on a sequel to cash-in on the success of the first film. It has everything a studio might want or expect from a sequel, which is to say that it is rather formulaic. If anything, it feels like a middle finger to Paramount – a great joke in itself, but hardly the funniest thing about Wayne’s World 2.
The Best Joke in Cinematic History
Which brings us to what is easily the most hilarious (and silliest) joke in cinema history, and really the only thing needed to justify my overall argument: Garth has found himself in the home of one Ms. Honey Horneé, a stunningly beautiful woman who is trying her best to seduce this endearingly hapless dweeb. The whole scene is worth a watch, but the greatest joke of all time happens at the 3:20 mark in the embed above.
I rest my case.
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