Monday, August 15, 2022

80's Watch: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

Watched:  08/12/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Director:  Tim Burton

I saw Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985) the first time in a theater in the Chicago area when we were on a family roadtrip and were staying with some people who had kids our age.  I mean, we were all a little obligated to like Pee-Wee Herman at the time, and I think there was a smidge of misunderstanding that this was a kids' movie rather than an all-ages movie.  

I recall thinking the movie was funny, better than I expected, and that I'd about needed a change of pants after the Large Marge sequence during which I'd leaped about a foot out of my chair.  

I've seen the movie a few times over the years, and every time I am reminded of the film's genuine greatness.  

I really don't know much about Paul Reubens outside of his work as Pee-Wee Herman, but I assume he's a pretty smart guy.  Literally no one else does what he does.  What was kind of lost on us at the time as kids, and what will be lost on kids new to the movie now is that Pee-Wee Herman is a sort of living embodiment of a Boomer nostalgia and retro goofiness that wasn't commodified in the way Gen-X nostalgia has driven, like, billion dollar Transformers movies.  He was more of a boy-man who still lived in a sort of Howdy Doody world of kitsch and camp that now looks like generic kid-fun, but was roughly coded to bend the intention of everything around him from Abraham Lincoln in the kitchen to a hobo bindle stick.

The story, the characters (Simone!), the settings (dinosaur truck stop, the rodeo) and the set-up are all amazing nonsense.  I mean, it's a movie that features a Santa sleigh with a Godzilla in it during a climactic scene.  The movie doesn't pause for life lessons, it just keeps upping the goofiness.  

Also, the casting is pitch perfect - at least it seems so now - with Jan Hooks, Elizabeth Daily, Diane Salinger, Cassandra Peterson, Mark Holton, Judd Omen, and more..!
Anyway - if you want 90 minutes of pure joy, I welcome you to it.  If you do not, take a pass.

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