Pee-Wee's Big Adventure 4.0 stars

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure movie poster
  • Rated PG | 1 hour, 30 minutes

The moviegoer's first introduction to Pee-wee Herman, and both of them should be very happy about it. Jerry Lewis would seem to be the comedian's closest screen cousin, at least in measurement of time, but he even bypasses Lewis in likeness to their silent-era forebears, with his complete and unalterable stylization from head to toe (from glazed ceramic face, that is, to mincing, teetering, geisha-girl step). Included also in that stylized head, to be sure, are a fully operative tongue and set of vocal cords, with an assortment of giggles and guffaws out of the repertoire of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and their Warner Brothers stablemates, and a speaking voice like a slightly older brother of Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann. But enough of comparisons. In personality there has never been anyone quite like him. His continual responsiveness to stimuli in the world around him, and especially to self-generated stimuli whenever the world lets him down (e.g., the "mad dog" effect of toothpaste froth, or the face he constructs on his breakfast plate out of fried eggs, bacon, pancake, and strawberry) will no doubt be perceived in terms of childlikeness -- or, since he is not an actual child, in terms of dementedness. But in his indefatigable alertness to the physical world he makes an example for intellectuals too. And his attitude toward that world is nothing short of philosophical. Directed by Tim Burton. 1985.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

Jay Allen Sanford Oct. 1, 2010 @ 5:42 p.m.

See, Mr. Shepherd and I aren't always at odds with our opinions - we both give four stars to Pee Wee! Tho, offscreen, alter ego Paul Reubens can be a challenge -- After sitting for a lengthy interview, Reubens once offered me a tour of his L.A. home, a memorabilia-stuffed museum full of vintage toys and advertising, 3-D cameras and Viewmasters and other pop culture kitsch. Opening a small plastic garbage can full of snot-thick green goo, he suddenly became playful and held the stuff over my head, giggling "Look out, the Green Slime is coming!" Goo dripped wetly from between his fingers and suddenly the viscous fluid went kerplop onto my skull.

Immediately apologetic, Reubens tried to assist pulling the gunk from my shoulder-length hair but it just got more matted-in. Then I felt a burning sensation and my eyes began watering as if exposed to ammonia - the green slime, I found out later, was nearly a decade old and the chemical breakdown was having decidedly unpleasant interaction with my scalp, hair and eyes.

The photographer accompanying me whisked me to a hospital, where I was attended by a middle aged nurse who luckily remembered the alcohol-based concoction often called upon to treat green slime related mishaps of the early 80s.

Reubens was still apologizing the next day when he phoned to make sure I'd lived to tell. He kindly picked up the tab for $975, which covered the cost of my hospital visit and of the hair stylist later called upon to "fix" those spots where slime-encrusted hair had been excised from my shaggy 'do.

The resultant haircut can only be described as a cross between a mullet and a Banzai tree, and my scalp still itches like hell anytime I see something both green and gooey ("Honey, how come you always pick your nose and scratch your head at the same time?")

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