FILMS

Heavy-metal hilarity

Mike Myers takes road hockey to Hollywood

Brian D. Johnson February 24 1992
FILMS

Heavy-metal hilarity

Mike Myers takes road hockey to Hollywood

Brian D. Johnson February 24 1992

Heavy-metal hilarity

Mike Myers takes road hockey to Hollywood

FILMS

Mike Myers had warned the publicist at Paramount Pictures that he is not at his best in the morning. His first interview of the day was set for the undemanding hour of 10:30 a.m. Myers finally straggled in half an hour late, profusely apologetic. Dressed in blue jeans and a baggy grey sweater, he looked a little bleary-eyed. As a cast member of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, the Toronto-born comedian has a metabolism geared to the energy of the midnight hour. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” he said, sitting down over coffee and yogurt. “So I drove around and ended up at City Hall watching somebody shoot a movie. It turned out to be Don Shebib. I couldn’t believe it— he’s one of my heroes.” Myers was too shy to introduce himself to Shebib, director of the Canadian classic Goin ’ Down the Road (1970). At 28, Myers is a star. But like the character he plays in his new movie, Wayne’s World, part of him is still the star-struck kid from the suburbs.

On Saturday Night Live, Myers is most famous for playing a heavy-metal moron named Wayne, who hosts a suburban Chicago publicaccess cable TV show from his parents’ rec room with his co-host, Garth (Dana Carvey). Myers has now parlayed that satirical routine into a Hollywood feature. Wayne’s World is a goofy, good-natured comedy, a movie so wilfully sophomoric that no matter how inane it gets, it never loses its charm. Parodying suburban rock culture without a shred of pretence, Wayne’s World is as irresistible as a double-chocolate doughnut—with about as much substance.

Stretching a TV sketch into a full-length feature is a loaves-and-fishes proposition. On the now-defunct SCTV series, Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis created a small-screen sensation as the McKenzie brothers, beer-guzzling Canadian yokels who slurred their way through a talk show called Great White North. But Strange Brew (1983), the movie based on the routine, failed to take off.

With Saturday Night Livés more than 12 million viewers across North America, however, Wayne’s World has broader appeal. The sketch has created a variety of popular catchphrases, including “Not!” (to negate a statement after the fact) and “Monkeys might fly out of my butt!” (to illustrate implausibility). And Wayne’s World has become a fashionable guest spot for celebrities. Madonna actually asked to be on the show. Last year, she and Wayne appeared in a fantasy sequence that ended with a bout of heavy kissing. Myers was nervous at first, he recalled. “My first screen kiss ever is with Madonna, right, this pillar of

sexuality. I told her, ‘I have to be honest with you. I don’t know what to do.’ To demonstrate, she grabbed my hand and gave it a very tightlipped kiss. Then she said, ‘Put your mouth on my mouth and pretend we’re having a really good time—and if you slip me the tongue, I’ll kill you.’ ” Added Myers: “It was an out-ofbody experience.”

In person, the comedian reveals more than a

hint of Wayne’s mall-rat mannerisms. Raised in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, Myers grew up with a generation of adolescent metalheads, denizens of doughnut shops and woodpanelled basements. The youngest of three sons bom to Eric Myers, an insurance salesman now deceased, and his wife, Alice, an office supervisor, he made his acting debut in a TV commercial when he was 8—Gilda Radner played his mother. He recalls that in 1975, when he was 11, he watched Saturday Night Livés first broadcast and thought, “God, I would love to be on this show.”

Myers joined Toronto’s Second City comedy troupe in 1982, one day after graduating from high school. Then, after working with Chicago’s Second City troupe, at 26 he became Saturday Night Livés youngest cast member.

As a writer-performer, Myers has shown his versatility with such memorable characters as Middle-Aged Man (a potbellied superhero) and a pretentious German movie critic who hosts a talk show called Sprockets.

But Wayne remains his most popular incarnation. And Saturday Night Livés Torontoborn executive producer, Lome Michaels, decided to make Wayne’s World the first of several movies that he was contracted to produce for Paramount. Its director is American film-maker Penelope Spheeris, best known for making rock documentaries.

Wayne’s World takes Wayne and Garth out of the basement. Their favorite haunt is Stan Mikita’s Donuts, which has a revolving hockey player on the roof. And they play road hockey in the suburbs. The movie’s plot involves a sleazy TV executive, played by an unctuous Rob Lowe, who tries to turn their cable show into a commercial venture sponsored by a videoarcade merchant. He also tries to steal

Wayne’s new girlfriend, a rock singer named Cassandra (Tia Carrere).

The movie spoofs party-animal ethics with knowing authenticity. On the issue of vomiting and romance, Wayne advises: “If you blow chunks and she comes back, she’s yours. But if you spew and she bolts, it was never meant to be.” Although the male idiocy in Wayne’s World, with all its talk of “mega-babes” and “babe-fests,” is obviously playful, it does indulge in a sense of sexist complicity. But it is hard to dislike a movie that has an epilogue in which the characters pre-empt the critics by saying, “I hope you didn’t think it sucked.” And it is hard to dislike a movie star who has brought road hockey to Hollywood.

BRIAN D. JOHNSON