This surprise hit from the 80s often gets overlooked these days. But give it a shot, Blogs From Geekdom thinks you’ll like it!
To a kid, Pee Wee was a dream come true. He was an adult that lived like a kid. He played with toys and had a fireman’s pole to go downstairs where a machine made his breakfast! “Can I have some Mr. T cereal?” His yard was full of plastic animals and his sprinkler was a Willie the Water Bug. He had the coolest bike you could ever think up, complete with oil slicks and smoke screens. This is how every kid dreams his life will be when he becomes an adult! So, kids liking Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a no-brainer.
But what about the older audiences? The teens that think he’s too uncool to even watch a movie about him. The adults that think he’s irresponsible and annoying. To them, I recommend that you look at this as a well-made, low budget comedy full of cameos and random dark humor made by one of Hollywood’s biggest directors.
People often forget that this is the first theatrical film of Tim Burton, the man who would go on to direct Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, and Alice in Wonderland, and also bring us The Nightmare Before Christmas. His dark comedy style is very much at work in Pee Wee (evil clowns throughout!). Burton’s past working for Disney and future making animation is also apparent in a few scenes. “Be sure to tell ’em, ‘Large Marge sent ya!'”
It was also the first film to be scored by Danny Elfman, who continues to work frequently with Tim Burton, in addition to giving us themes from Men in Black, The Simpsons and Army of Darkness.
This film not only has Burton’s dark vision and Elfman’s cheerful/dark score, but also Paul Reubens’ (Pee Wee’s real-life identity) random comedy. “I bought this pen exactly one hour before my bike was stolen. Why? What’s the significance? I DON’T KNOW!” Pee Wee is a character that appeals to children but really has the humor of an adult.
The low budget is apparent but not important. Several scenes are shot against a plain black background. Crowd scenes are made up of very few people. The story is straightforward and uncomplicated. Sets are small or on location. But it all works! It works because this is a great director, a great musician, and a great comedian making a movie about a simple guy simply looking for his bike.
Paul Reubens had been in show business for a long time prior to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, often performing stand-up comedy as Pee Wee. He is so commonly associated with the Pee Wee role, the credits read simply, “Pee Wee Herman as himself.”
Many of Reubens’ associates make cameos in the movie as well as other big Hollywood stars. Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks from Saturday Night Live, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), and the band Twisted Sister. Even Godzilla appears in this movie. (I told you there were BIG stars!)
If you haven’t seen it, give it a shot. If you haven’t seen it since 1985, it’s time to revisit this hilarious film. If you don’t enjoy it, come back on here and tell me how wrong I am. If you love it, come back on here and tell me how right I am! If you’re bored, just say “hello” in the comments!