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It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...Star Wars

The air outside is crisp. You can see your breath and the end of your nose is red and cold. The houses that you pass have Christmas trees in the windows. There are lights arranged all over the front lawns. The stores are all lit up and twinkling. The bell ringers are sitting in front of the shops collecting your spare change for charity.

But it’s not a Christmas party that we’re going to tonight.

I’m sitting in a restaurant with my wife and my daughter. It’s not a fancy place. “It’s not the Shangri-La,” as I’ve been known to say in description of any place that doesn’t require a jacket and tie. No, this is just a hamburger joint.

We’re sitting in a booth enjoying big, fat cheeseburgers, shoestring fries, and ice cream sundaes. There is electricity in the air. There is a smile on my face. This is a special day.

At the table next to us there are two men about my age. They’re having a casual conversation about their work and if you just listened to the words you’d think they were in bus…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1992

This series is not about the best movies ever made. It’s not a list of the movies that I think have done the most for the craft of movie making. It’s not about the ones that speak to my soul or the ones that make the earth a better place to be. It’s simply about listing the movies that are my favorites from any particular year. A few things go into that decision. Sometimes its nostalgia and I’ll admit that. There are some movies that I saw when they first came out and the illicit a response from me and there is no denying that. The other thing that I think about is how a movie has grown on me over time. I had no interest in JFK when it was first released, but now as an adult I can appreciate a few things about it.

It is with that preamble explanation that I announce my favorite movie from 1992…Wayne’s World.

I just heard a lot of eyes roll.

I’m as much of a comedy nerd as I am a movie geek. I love comedies of all kinds. And one of the things that most fans of comedy have in common is that we love Saturday Night Live. It’s had its ups and downs as far as quality, but some of the all time greatest performers got their start right there on that stage. Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy…the list goes on and on.

When I was a teenager I used to watch SNL every single week. This was in the early nineties when people like Adam Sandler, David Spade, and Chris Farley were first starting to make a name for themselves. Actors on that show really hoped to create a character that the audience loved so that producers would insist on putting them on several times a year. That was why we got characters like the Church Lady and Stuart Smalley. They just resonated with enough of the audience that they kept writing sketches for them.

That’s what happened with Wayne’s World. That was a sketch that Mike Myers came up with about a young slacker named Wayne Campbell that cares more about heavy metal than getting a job. He and his buddy, Garth, do a public access TV show. Talk show sketches are the easiest for SNL to do since it is essentially just talking to the audience and being funny.

Well, this sketch got a rise out of my generation. We loved Wayne and Garth and the catchphrases started flying. “Shwing!” “Sheyah, Right!” “Excellent!” So, SNL did something that I don’t think they had done since The Blues Brothers. They moved that 5 minute skit to the big screen.

At the time I thought it was a fantastic idea. Looking back on it now I can see how weird of a decision that was. I mean, it works great for a few minutes on TV, but how are you going to make this concept work in a movie. You have to take these characters out of a talk show format and make them have some kind of adventure, changing the dynamic completely. It’s a risky move. And we now know that it is not a move that always works. Because even though this movie was a massive hit, they also made movies like The Ladies Man, Stuart Saves His Family, and It’s Pat that didn’t work out so well.

One cold February night my dad took my brother and I to see this movie on opening night. It was one of the rare occasions that we all actually wanted to see the same thing. I was just getting to an age where going to the movies was not as special of an occasion as it was when I was smaller. We were doing it more often because…what else are you going to take your teenagers to do in small town America?

When the movie started I realized that this was going to be a lot more than just a 90 minute version of an SNL skit. These characters had been fleshed out. This was a real movie and 14-year-old me absolutely loved every minute of it. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey did a great job of changing everything about their characters without changing one single thing. I really felt like I was watching the same two guys from the sketch but with so much more detail. This was Wayne’s basement but it wasn’t Wayne’s basement.

And I also found out that night that I was in love with Tia Carrere.

1992 had so many movies that were really good. Aladdin is in my list of favorite animated films. I loved Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, A Few Good Men, Batman Returns…are you kidding me? It was a fantastic year to be a movie fan. But when I look back on those titles and I wonder which of them gives me the warm and fuzzies…which one I quote the most…which one I had the most fun watching the first time around…It has to be Wayne’s World.

I’m not worthy.


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