Television executive Benjamin Kane (Rob Lowe) is in bed with a young woman one evening when she happens to turn on the TV to see if there's anything to watch while they finish their pizza. She flicks through the channels until she reaches the public access show Wayne's World, which she's a fan of. It is presented by Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers) and his best friend Garth Algar (Dana Carvey), and they are dedicated to bringing good music and good guests to the Chicago area, as tonight when Garth is demonstrated upon with a new hair cutting invention...
Well, Benjamin's date thinks it's funny, and she's Ione Skye, so who are we to argue? Indeed, there were millions of people who thought Wayne's World was very funny too, and it became the first film based on Saturday Night Live characters since The Blues Brothers to gross over a hundred million dollars (not that it had much competition in that respect). Although it's had its ups and downs, the show has proven popular since its seventies' origins, and producer Lorne Michaels grew to like the idea of translating the best known recurring characters into movie form, but the results were not always welcomed by audiences.
There was never a Coneheads 2, for example, but there was a Wayne's World 2, which should give you some idea of how successful this first film was. The joke was that Wayne and Garth were men of the people, and their schtick consisted of their very particular worldview - they loved rock music, girls and pop culture references, not necessarily in that order - being applied to whatever their topic or guest was that week. To bulk this up to movie length, Lowe co-starred as the bad guy who sees a financial opportunity in taking their show to the masses, and sets out to exploit our heroes in a typical take on the kind of corporations who were bringing this sort of entertainment to the world's screens in the first place.
So if you could get over such outrageous hypocrisy (well, Myers made fun of that too in a one scene flurry of product placement), and a lot of people could very easily, then what did this boil down to? Mainly a selection of catchphrases and dialogue the makers hoped would become endlessly quotable, which for the target audience were bang on, though once you started hearing them punctuate sarcastic statements with "NOT!" you began to wonder if they weren't best left to the experts. The trouble was, although relentlessly goodnatured unless you were willing to meet them halfway these characters were kind of lazily conceived, which is fine for five minutes of sketches, but consistently shallow for what amounted to ninety minutes of attempted comedy memes.
Obviously some suspension of disbelief was necessary, not least because Wayne and especially Garth looked so old in comparison to the characters they were playing, but also that Wayne would manage to snag out of his league rock singer Tia Carrere, though at least you could put that down to wish fulfilment and living out the dreams of that audience. Then again, Carrere's Cassandra was meant to be a real musical talent but without the boost of appearing in this movie you couldn't imagine the public embracing a cover of The Sweet's Ballroom Blitz (which was an actual hit single on the back of this) - basically Cassandra's tunes are terrible compared to the classic rock Wayne and Garth worship. Another problem from this remove is that with such specific references to the past, the sense of humour seems positively prehistoric, and now Wayne's World is thought of in the same nostalgic terms, if at all. That said, the first one, the massive hit, might not have been funny anymore, but the sequel was a different matter.