(Second viewing, On TV, December 2016) Recognizably cut from the same cloth as the first Wayne’s World, this sequel treads more or less the same style of silly comedy, although it’s really not quite as fresh or good as the original. As the plot devolves into jealousy and music festival mechanics, while avoiding some of the most amusing fourth-wall-breaking of the original, the result isn’t as memorable as its predecessors. (While I was able to quote from the original for years, I remembered maybe two jokes from the sequel.) Mike Myers, Dana Carvey and Tia Carrere return from the original and are in fine form—even though much of Kim Basinger’s subplot feels far too long and is only redeemed by its last joke. Good bits include Charlton Heston being shoved in the film as a better actor, but too often, the film falls in love with its own jokes and runs them into the ground long after they’ve stopped being amusing. Wayne’s World 2 is an adequate follow-up to the first film, but not essential. It hasn’t aged as well, and clearly anticipates issues that would dog later Mike Myers films.
(Second or third viewing, On Cable TV, June 2016) Wayne’s World hit pop culture the summer before my senior high-school year. You can imagine the carnage, and my visible twitching at how “… NOT,” “Sha-wing!” “Baberham Lincoln” and other catchphrases are still embedded deeply in my brain. Not that it’s all bad: I credit Wayne’s World for making “Bohemian Rhapsody” one of my top-ten all-time favourite songs. Still, I hadn’t seen the film in over twenty years, and watching it was as pure a nostalgia experience as I can remember. Even today, I could quote verbatim from some moments, happily banged my head along at the appropriate time and was looking forward to the pronunciation of “mill-e-wah-que”. Still, I had forgotten enough of the film to make it interesting. I didn’t remember so much meta-humour commentary, and it still works most excellently. (Interestingly, though, I’ve been conflating two quotes as “I’m giving you a no-spew guarantee” for the past twenty-some years.) Mike Myers and Dana Carver are very good as the protagonists, while Tia Carrere looks spectacular in her debut role. The meta-humour is playful enough to stay enjoyable today, even despite a few rough edges. (My new nightmare is seeing Wayne’s World remade as a reality-TV mockumentary.) For a film that I may have been tempted to dismiss as a mere source of high-school silliness, Wayne’s World is still remarkably funny today.
(On Cable TV, February 2014) I had low expectations for this low-budget romantic comedy, which came out of nowhere with a bland premise, no-name leads and a featured performance by Rob Schneider. Somehow, though, You May Not Kiss the Bride overcomes most of its shortcomings to deliver an entertaining-enough blend of sympathetic protagonists, gorgeous Hawaiian cinematography and effective screenwriting. Here, a Chicagoan photographer is manipulated into fake-marrying a mob daughter to ensure her citizenship. A honeymoon is arranged for the purpose of misleading government authorities, but our protagonist has been warned that he may definitely not kiss or otherwise touch the bride on promises of painful death. Naturally, things don’t quite go according to plan. There isn’t much more to the film than a few performances. Dave Annable and Katharine McPhee make for an appealing lead couple, while Tia Carrere has a welcome supporting role, Mena Suvari repeatedly mugs for laughs and Rob Schneider proves to be far less annoying than expected. Vinnie Jones shows up for a typical turn as the film’s designated heavy, but this isn’t a film that lives on the strengths of its antagonists. While You May Not Kiss the Bride isn’t particularly ambitious (and kind of fumbles its landing by stretching it out), writer/director Rob Hedden should be happy: his film is good enough to make its target audience happy, and may even qualify as a pleasant late-night-cable discovery.
(Second Viewing, On DVD, July 2010) I hadn’t seen True Lies since it was first released in theatres, and while it has visibly aged since then, it hasn’t lost much of its appeal. Beginning like a competent James Bond clone featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the film soon takes a then-unusual turn in portraying a secret agent dealing with matrimonial issues. While this trope isn’t so fresh now after such films as Mr and Mrs Smith (and was adapted from French film La Totale in the first place), it’s still rich in possibilities that True Lies exploits relatively well. Unfortunately, what seems more obvious now are the pacing issues: There’s a mid-film lull that more or less coincides with increasingly unpleasant harassment of the lead female character by her husband, and even the reversal/payoff later in the film doesn’t completely excuse the bad feeling left by the sequence. On the other hand, the action scenes are almost as good as they could be despite some dated CGI work: True Lies may be among director James Cameron’s lesser work, but it shows his understanding of how an action scene can be put together and features mini-payoffs even in the smallest details. The last half-hour is just one thrill ride after another, culminating in a savvy Miami high-altitude ballet. In terms of acting, it’s fun to see Eliza Dushku in a small but pivotal pre-Buffy role as the hero’s daughter or Tia Carrere as an evil terro-kitten –although it’s no less strange to see Jamie Lee Curtis get a few minutes of screen time as a sex symbol and I can’t help to think that Schwarzenegger, however great he is playing up to his own archetype, is singularly miscast as a character who should look far meeker. Uncomfortable mid-film harassment sequences aside, True Lies nonetheless holds up fairly well more than a decade and a half later, thanks to a clever blend of action, humor and married romance. What really doesn’t hold up, though, is the bare-bones 1999 DVD edition, which is marred by a poor grainy transfer and a quasi-complete lack of supplements. We know about James Cameron’s reputation for excess during the making of his movies: There’s got to be an awesome documentary somewhere in this film’s production archives.