Saturday, February 29, 2020, 7:30 p.m.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure 35th Anniversary Tour with Paul Reubens
121 Broadway, San Diego, 92101
After an HBO special and numerous unpredictable appearances on Late Night With David Letterman had earned him a cult reputation, this film introduced Pee-Wee Herman to mainstream America. The brilliance of Paul Reubens’ nine-year-old hyperthyroid case lay in his ability to wring boundless variations out of such a seemingly limited schtick. He was the closest his generation of comedians came to capturing the bendy playfulness of the classic cartoons that he frequently included in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Not since Jerry Lewis had a comedian been so aware of the placement of his body in the frame to elicit laughs. He also shared Lewis’ ability to unite parent and child in convulsive laughter. In addition to Pee, this launched the directorial career of twenty-six-year-old budding animator Tim Burton and his soon-to-be-superstar composer Danny Elfman. Reuben’s subsequent acts of career hara-kiri landed him on the front pages of tabloids worldwide, and for a period, the scandal threatened to forever keep his landmark debut feature from attaining the “family classic” status it so richly deserved. Rumor has it that Reubens is pitching a new Pee-Wee feature, this one with a decidedly darker slant. Ask him when the 35th Anniversary Tour of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure rolls into the Spreckels Theatre. Reubens will be there in person to reminisce and field audience questions. Will he come dressed as himself or the affectionately annoying nerd clad in red bow tie and short-sleeved gray suit? I interviewed Reubens when the film came out — make that Pee-Wee; at the time, he refused to break character.