Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wayne's World (1992)

Often, comedy direction is undervalued. A film is either funny or it is not, but it can be hard to put a finger on why. Usually the actors or script get the credit/blame. A director usually has to do something way over-the-top to get people's attention in a comedy. The best comedy direction is so subtle as to go unnoticed. In spite of all the 4th wall breaking and pop culture references, subtlety is what Penelope Spheeris really brought to Wayne's World.

In that early scene of driving the Mirth Mobile around Aurora while Bohemian Rhapsody plays, I was struck by how matter of factly all of the local businesses were being depicted. I'm pretty sure all of those were actual local establishments. No art directing with silly/ridiculous business names. And with that music playing underneath, you get the strong sense of romanticization. This is how Wayne sees his hometown. Wayne loves his hometown. This would have been an ideal place to insert a few extra cheap jokes, but Spheeris opted to hold back. Had the film opted to demonized/mock suburbia here, the whole film would have really suffered.

Putting jokes there would have been the cinematic equivalent of mocking the yokels just like Rob Lowe's Ben does. By instead showing restraint and choosing not to condescend, we get to be 100% on Wayne and Garth's side. We get to laugh with them. Excellent!

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