tek's rating:

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (PG)
IMDb; Lost Highway; Rotten Tomatoes; Tim Burton Wiki; TV Tropes; Warner Bros.; Wikipedia

This came out in 1985, but I'm fairly sure I first saw it in 2017. The success of the film led to the Saturday morning TV show Pee-wee's Playhouse. I don't remember whether or not I'd even heard of this movie prior to that show. It's entirely possible that when I did learn of its existence, I thought it was made after the show. Either way, I'm pretty sure that for many years I had no desire to see the movie. But eventually I changed my mind, and I'm glad I've finally seen it, because it's actually pretty funny. And I really do like how weird it is... for the most part. It still took me a while to get into it, but once the actual adventure started, it got progressively more absurdly and surrealistically entertaining. I should say the movie is also notable as the first feature-length film that Tim Burton directed, as well as the first major film for which Danny Elfman composed the score.

The movie begins with man-child Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) riding his bicycle to victory in the Tour de France. But before he can receive his award, his alarm clock goes off, and he wakes up. He then goes about his morning routine (which includes using a Rube Goldberg contraption to prepare breakfast for himself and his dog, Speck). I always like seeing Rube Goldberg devices, but other than that, I found much of this early part of the film a bit tedious. (I've always had mixed feelings about the character. Sometimes I can find him amusing, other times just annoying.) After breakfast, he goes outside and gets his beloved bike from its apparently ultra-secure hiding place. Before he can start riding it, he's stopped by an acquaintance named Francis Buxton, who wants to buy the bike, but of course Pee-wee refuses. Then he goes downtown and locks up his bike, while doing a bit of shopping. He stops into a magic shop, and then a bike shop, where his friend Dottie (Elizabeth Daily) works. She'd been preparing a particularly loud bike horn for him. She also asks him out on a date, which he clearly doesn't have any interest in. (Apparently because he has no interest in dating, period. Which is just as well; I daresay she's too good for him.) Then, when he returns to where he left his bike, he finds it's been stolen.

Subsequently, he seeks help from the police, who can't do anything about it. Then from his friends, including Dottie, but most of them don't seem very interested, either. Well, Dottie would like to help, but by this time, Pee-wee is so upset that he rejects her help. He also accuses Francis of stealing the bike, but is soon convinced that was a mistake. Eventually, he seeks advice from a fortune-teller, who tells him that his bike is in the basement of the Alamo. This is obviously a lie, but Pee-wee believes her, and sets out to hitchhike to Texas. (It will be some time before he realizes he left his wallet behind, but I don't think he had much money in it, anyway.) So... along the way, he meets lots of people and has lots of weird adventures (and some weird dreams). Later still, his search leads him to Hollywood (which he gets to immediately after deciding to go there, unlike his long journey to San Antonio). Beyond that, I don't want to reveal any plot details. (I couldn't do them justice, anyway. You just have to see the movie to understand how amusingly bizarre it all is.)

I did also want to mention that there are some familiar faces in minor roles, including Jan Hooks, Jason Hervey, Cassandra Peterson, James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild, Milton Berle, et al. And... I don't know what else to tell you.


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