As a part of Project M, where Sarah and Doug cajole each other into watching movies of each others’ choice, we’ll be following up the viewings with conversational breakdowns of the various experiences. Here’s our discussion of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Wayne’s World.
Sarah: Well, you developed a man crush on Luke Perry.
Doug (laughing): Let’s make sure everyone understands those are your words. Luke Perry was awesome in Buffy for his non awesomeness. Or maybe he was awesome for just appearing to think he was awesome. He sold it hard in the whole movie.
Sarah: Don’t you think the moody, motorcycle punk with the heart of gold was just him being what he was told to be, though? I think he was just playing what they told him to play.
Doug: Oh, I don’t criticize the guy. Luke Perry found his thing, he made it work.
Sarah: And probably still living off it to this day.
Doug: And he was one of the most popular guys in entertainment, period, for a good five years there. Around Buffy and 90210 time. Although watching Buffy it dawned on me that this was an example of the last period where a movie that was sort of this bad, with horrible writing, etc, but could still be this big as an entertainment. It seems like from what I’ve seen of the Buffy TV show, that the TV show was miles better than the movie.
Sarah: But I wouldn’t say the movie sucked or anything.
Doug: It was entertaining, but the writing seemed right around sitcom level. I chuckled a few times, but maybe as much at it as with it.
Sarah: But they figured out a way to make this kind of stuff back then. Like Back To The Future or, as you’ve pointed out, Teen Wolf. Even to this day, people love movies like these. Back To The Future came out when I was about four (Doug winces). And I still love those movies.
Doug: Definitely. They’re like marshmallows, basically. You eat them, and you enjoy them, and then they’re gone.
Sarah: But when you happen upon them, like on TV, you latch right back onto them. If I come across Back To The Future, I’m not turning the channel.
Doug: And I feel a little bad with Buffy, because I know how much you like it, that maybe I don’t like it for the best of reasons. I enjoyed it, but in a pretty cheesily campy way.
Sarah: I think it was meant to be campy, don’t you?
Doug: Well, yes. But I think we’re talking about slightly different things. Is there such a thing as good camp and bad camp? I think it was meant to be more spoofy at the time than campy.
Sarah: Yeah. It obviously wasn’t meaning to take itself or anything real seriously. I love the TV show, but the times I don’t like it a lot are the times when it goes too far in taking itself too seriously.
Doug: And we’re coming at it from different perspectives. You saw it at the time at an age when it was probably perfect for you to see. And I never saw it until now, and I’m coming at it from, “Oh, look, it’s Rutger Hauer. That’s great. Ben Affleck. That’s the guy that hosted that dating show Studs!”
Sarah: Pee Wee Herman, who took 20 minutes to die at the end of the movie. Hillary Swank, who is like a real actress, is in it.
Doug: Hillary Swank. And she’s…
Doug (laughing): Really bad. In a way, the funny thing for me watching it 20 years later is that with all these people in it, Kristy Swanson was really good in it. I mean, David Arquette just sort of looked like he had to use the rest room the whole time.
Sarah: That’s his perplexed look. Although one of my favorite scenes is when Arquette shows up outside the window of Luke Perry’s hotel room. And Perry is, like, “You’re floating in the air, man, I’m not going to let you in.”
Doug: OK, that was a good scene. Because Perry wasn’t freaked out by it. It was more like, alright, if you’re going to start doing this sort of deal I’m not going to hang out with you anymore.
Sarah: You mean the floating in the air bit?
Doug: Yeah, Perry was all, “I tolerated you as my wingman when I was going in to the underage clubs all drunk as the young adult motorcycle tough with the heart of gold, trying to pick up 16 year old girls. But now that you’re a vampire…”
Sarah (laughing): “You’re of no use to me anymore.”
Doug: But we have to get to the scene at the end. Perry with the puffy shirt, the oversized puffy shirt, the vest, the big puffy jacket.
Sarah: Ah, 90s style, but before we get to that, I have to say I did love Donald Sutherland as well.
Doug: Good stuff from Sutherland. Just enough slime. When he said, “I train young girls (pause for effect)… to be Slayers.” Solid work.
Sarah: “I train young girls” was a good line.
Doug: But what about the ripoff factor? You had a lot of Teen Wolf rip-offery in Buffy. The other worldly teenager. The emphasis on basketball and the fact that paranormal beings would naturally be spectacular basketball players. The coach is an oddball in both movies. And Buffy had the incredible Karate Kid training sequence.
Sarah: Oh, yeah!!!
Doug: At one point, Donald Sutherland was doing karate moves and even swept the leg on Kristy Swanson to teach her a lesson. And there were a couple of shots… I mean, most of the time you could tell Kristy Swanson had the obvious stunt double. But a couple of times, they didn’t cut away and she would rock a backflip or a double cartwheel. Cool stuff.
Sarah: And, of course, Joss Whedon wrote Buffy, now out with The Avengers.
Doug: Fill me in a little. From what I read, Whedon wrote the screenplay but maybe they made the movie more campy than he would have liked it?
Sarah: Probably. Obviously, if you go by what he did in the TV show, which he seemed much more involved in, definitely being the series writer, it seems like he was interested in using the vampire as a stronger metaphor for the monsters in teen life. But I also see him as the kind of guy who could have been consciously referencing a movie like Teen Wolf when he wrote the original Buffy. I could see him wanting to reference something I think he would have enjoyed. Joss Whedon strikes me as a fanboy type and it could have been that even back then he was sort of fanboy-ing Teen Wolf.
Doug: Or he could have just been, consciously or unconsciously at the time, copying something that was successful and hot at the moment. That would be a good question for Mr. Whedon.
Sarah: Or maybe Joss Whedon had the basic framework of the story and somebody else put in a lot of the stuff that was Teen Wolf-ish.
Doug: Awesome, fun movie to watch in the end. Even with what I would “criticize” them for, and kind of thinking these aren’t necessarily the types of movies I would always go out of my way to watch these days, and moving on to thinking about Wayne’s World, what’s not to like about the just having fun factor that these two movies have. To me, what makes Wayne’s World work is almost 100% that when I’m watching it, it’s not even any of these actors playing characters. I’m thinking the entire time about the actual people and they’re just constantly having so much fun and winking at the camera, etc, how can you not just roll along with it?
Sarah: Breaking down the third wall, or the fourth wall, or whatever wall it is between the actors and the audience. They’re busting down all the walls.
Doug: And for me, even if they didn’t do the looking right at the audience thing, which was super effective, you could still feel how much fun Dana Carvey and Mike Meyers were having. A lot of the movie isn’t even all that funny on its own, but everyone is having so much fun with it, you have to laugh along.
Sarah: Well, for me, especially watching it now, I can see that you’re watching them just as Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey but you know Mike Meyers and Dana Carvey, especially Dana Carvey, is Garth. I don’t think of Dana Carvey as much else. When I think of him, I just think of him in the blonde wig and big glasses and the satire of the 90s grunge look. That’s not how he normally looks, I’m sure. It’s certainly not how he looks now. And so I don’t know if you’re really thinking of Mike Meyers as Mike Meyers. It’s that he is Wayne. And Dana Carvey is Garth. There’s no distinguishing them.
Doug: And, in a way, I don’t know if you would call this a downside, but for a lot of those that came from Saturday Night Live, a lot of times you don’t think of them as being themselves, you just think of them as their characters.
Sarah: They didn’t seem to have a lot that was fleshed out for the Wayne’s World movie, so some of my favorite scenes were the ones that seemed to be improvised and just sort of, “Yeah, Garth would probably do that or Wayne would probably do this.” Like Garth stabbing the jelly donut and “making it bleed”. It’s like, ok, he’s bored sitting in the donut shop, that’s probably what he would do.
Doug: And I wonder if you could do a movie these days that could be so child-like goofy like they were in Wayne’s World. The humor was so harmless. Could you even put out a movie that, almost innocent, now? The humor you have to do now…
Sarah: Like , you’d have to rape a pie?
Doug (laughing): Nice one. Yeah, American Pie. Good comparison. And I’m not saying that’s not funny. It is funny.
Sarah: A very funny movie. But the great thing for me about Wayne’s World is that no matter how many times I see it, when I watch it again, it’s still fun.
Doug: As opposed to Buffy, which I had never seen, to be able to see Wayne’s World again, for the umpteenth time, well, like you say it’s just fun.
Sarah: And like you say, Wayne’s World is not always laugh out loud funny, but it also never seems to get old, like you don’t want to watch it. It’s always fun to watch. And they were living the dream, doing a show that they loved in their basement and living for Saturday night, like another guy in a movie we will get to another time…