The movie was released on February 14, 1992, and was a critical and commercial success. Its sequel, Wayne's World 2, was released on December 10, 1993.
In Aurora, Illinois, rock and roll fans Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar host a public-access television show, Wayne's World, from Wayne's parents' basement. Learning that the show is popular in the Aurora area, television producer Benjamin Oliver offers to buy the rights to it for $10,000. Garth has doubts about the deal but is too shy to say anything to Wayne so the pair accept the offer.
Wayne and Garth attend a local night club, where they avoid Wayne's troubled ex-girlfriend Stacy. Wayne falls for Cassandra Wong, vocalist and bassist of the band Crucial Taunt, playing at the club that night. He later impresses her with his Cantonese and purchases an expensive guitar he has long coveted.
Benjamin attempts to steal Cassandra from Wayne by exploiting his wealth and good looks. He distracts Wayne and Garth with all-access tickets to an Alice Cooper concert in Milwaukee, while offering to produce a music video for Cassandra's band. At the concert, Wayne and Garth make the acquaintance of a bodyguard to music producer Frankie Sharp, the head of Sharp Records.
While filming Wayne's World under Benjamin's oversight, Wayne and Garth find it difficult to adjust to the new professional studio environment. Their contract obliges them to give a promotional interview to their sponsor Noah Vanderhoff, who owns a franchise of amusement arcades. Wayne ridicules Vanderhoff with insults written on the back of his question cards and is fired from the show as result. This causes a rift in his friendship with Garth. Jealous of Benjamin, Wayne attempts to prevent Cassandra from participating in the music video shoot. She breaks up with him, furious at his lack of trust.
Wayne and Garth reunite and hatch a plan to win Cassandra back by having Frankie Sharp hear Crucial Taunt play. While Garth and their friends infiltrate a satellite station with the aid of Benjamin's assistant Russell, Wayne goes to Cassandra's video shoot. In a failed attempt to uncover Benjamin's ulterior motives Wayne embarrasses himself. As he leaves, Cassandra changes her mind about Benjamin. Wayne apologizes and they return to Aurora. They delay Benjamin's pursuit by having Garth's police officer friend perform a rectal body cavity search on him.
Broadcasting from Wayne's basement, Wayne's World hacks into Sharp's satellite television to broadcast Cassandra's performance. As her performance ends, Sharp and Benjamin converge on Wayne's basement. Sharp decides not to offer Crucial Taunt a record contract. Cassandra breaks up with Wayne and departs with Benjamin for a tropical resort. Stacy confesses that she is carrying Wayne's child, and a fire destroys Wayne's house.
The dissatisfied Wayne and Garth reenact the scene in an alternative ending, unmasking Benjamin as "Old Man Withers" in a "Scooby-Doo ending". They reenact it again in a "mega happy ending" in which Cassandra signs a record contract, reunites with Wayne, and Russell learns that "platonic love can exist between two grown men". Garth begins a relationship with a waitress from the local diner, and Benjamin learns that money and good looks do not bring happiness.
The film frequently breaks the fourth wall, with Wayne, Garth, and others on occasion speaking directly to the audience and even the cameraman. Parts of the story are carried by Wayne's narration to the camera, when he offers a running commentary on what's happening in the film. Wayne, Garth, Cassandra, Glen, and Ben each address the viewer at times, with some assumed dramatic irony as no one is aware that they are in a film.Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell, host of Wayne's World
Dana Carvey as Garth Algar, Wayne's best friend and co-host
Tia Carrere as Cassandra Wong, singer and bassist of Crucial Taunt and Wayne's love interest
Rob Lowe as Benjamin Oliver, a sleazy television producer
Lara Flynn Boyle as Stacy, Wayne's troubled ex-girlfriend
Michael DeLuise as Alan, one of Wayne and Garth's crew
Lee Tergesen as Terry, Wayne and Garth's head cameraman
Dan Bell as Neil, Wayne's and Garth's other crewman
Sean Gregory Sullivan as Phil, Wayne and Garth's perpetually intoxicated friend who works at an auto repair shop
Brian Doyle-Murray as Noah Vanderhoff, a video arcade magnate
Colleen Camp as Mrs. Vanderhoff
Kurt Fuller as Russell Finley, director of the television shows produced by Benjamin
Chris Farley as the well-informed security guard at the back of Alice Cooper concert
Meat Loaf as Tiny, a doorman at the Gasworks
Frank DiLeo as rock promoter Frankie 'Mr. Big' Sharp
Ed O'Neill as Glen, the manager at Stan Mikita's Donuts
Mike Hagerty as Davey, a controller at the Cable 10 television station whom Benjamin and Russell ask for help
Frederick Coffin as Officer Koharski
Donna Dixon as Garth's dream woman
Ione Skye as Elyse, Benjamin's girlfriend, who introduces him to Wayne's World
Robin Ruzan as a waitress at Stan Mikita's
Charles Noland as Ron Paxton, who tries to market his invention, the "Suck-Kut", to Garth
Carmen Filpi as Old Man Withers
Robert Patrick as Bad Cop, a parody of his T-1000 character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Alice Cooper with Pete Friesen, Derek Sherinian, Stef Burns, and Jimmy DeGrasso as themselves.
In 1991, a film adaptation of Wayne’s World was greenlit by Paramount Pictures, only the second movie based upon a Saturday Night Live sketch following The Blues Brothers in 1980. Penelope Spheeris was hired to direct by Lorne Michaels. Spheeris had previously directed several music documentaries. “It was a lucky shot, I’ll tell you," Spheeris said. “I had been just struggling as a female director in this business for many years. I was 45 years old when I got that job. I just kept hanging in there. And Wayne’s World happened, and it sort of flipped my life around.”
Spheeris clashed with Myers during filming. According to Spheeris, on one occasion, Myers stormed off the set, upset that there was "no margarine for his bagel, only butter." She told Entertainment Weekly that he was "emotionally needy and got more difficult as the shoot went along. You should have heard him bitching when I was trying to do that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ scene: ‘I can’t move my neck like that! Why do we have to do this so many times? No one is going to laugh at that!'” Spheeris attempted to assuage Myers by having her daughter provide him snacks. Myers and Spheeris argued over the final cut of the film, causing Myers to prevent Spheeris from directing the 1993 sequel.
The movie was a box office success debuting at No.1. The film's final domestic gross was $121,697,323., making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 1992 and the highest-grossing of the 11 films based on Saturday Night Live skits.
Wayne's World received mostly positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an 85% "Certified Fresh" rating based on 47 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10, with the critical consensus stating, "An oddball comedy that revels in its silliness and memorable catchphrases, Wayne's World is also fondly regarded because of its endearing characters." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 53 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Roger Ebert said in his review: "I walked into Wayne's World expecting a lot of dumb, vulgar comedy, and I got plenty, but I also found what I didn't expect: a genuinely amusing, sometimes even intelligent, undercurrent." However, Desson Howe wrote in the Washington Post that making a movie out of such a "teeny sketch" is "better than you'd expect" but criticized the finale as "an attempt to lampoon movie endings" "and a despair-driven inability to end the movie".
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Wayne's World the 41st-greatest comedy film of all time.
Filled with pop culture references, the sketches and the film started catchphrases such as "Schwing!" and "Schyea", as well as popularizing "That's what she said", "Party on!" and the use of "Not!" after apparently affirmative sentences in order to state the contrary. The "not" joke's popularity saw a resurgence after its use in the 2006 mockumentary film Borat. Then in 2010, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of Near East Affairs used a "not" joke in a classified email chain about Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar that was later released by Wikileaks.
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned and Grand Theft Auto V feature a car based on the AMC Pacer named "Rhapsody" in reference to the famed scene from the film. In The Lost and Damned video game, if the player zooms in on the dashboard with the sniper rifle, they can see a pixelated photograph resembling Wayne and Garth.
American Film Institute recognition:AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs - Nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
"Schwing!" - Nominated
"We're not worthy. We're not worthy." - Nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
Bohemian Rhapsody - Nominated
In 1993, Wayne's World video games were released for the NES, Super NES, the Sega Genesis, and the Game Boy, but the plot of the games differs from that of the film. In the Super NES and Mega Drive versions, the player controls Wayne as he goes on a mission throughout Aurora, visiting The Gas Works, Stan Mikita's, and Cassell's Music, the music store from the "No Stairway" scene, and other locations to rescue Garth from inside the "Zantar the Gelatinous Cube" arcade game mentioned in the film.
An adventure game version of Wayne's World was released around the same time for PCs. The plot involves Wayne and Garth trying to raise money to save their show by holding a "pizza-thon".The soundtrack album reached number one on the Billboard album chart.
The use of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the film propelled the song to number two on the Billboard singles charts 17 years after its first release. The studio originally wanted to use a Guns N' Roses song for the scene, but Myers demanded "Bohemian Rhapsody", even threatening to quit the production unless it was used. Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, had died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS a few months before the film's release. However, Mercury saw the head banging scene before his death, and he loved and approved the song for the film's use.
Gary Wright re-recorded "Dream Weaver" for the film, which is heard whenever Wayne looks at Cassandra.
Tia Carrere sang her own vocals on the songs she performed in the film, as well as cover songs such as Sweet's "The Ballroom Blitz", which were included on the film's soundtrack album.
Myers originally wanted Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" and "School's Out" in the film, but Cooper's manager Shep Gordon convinced him to use "Feed My Frankenstein" instead. It was Myers' first meeting with Gordon and it made such a strong, positive impression on him that they formed a friendship. Myers directed a 2014 documentary about Gordon, titled Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon.