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Randal Kleiser


Paul Reubens

George McGrath


Paul Reubens

Kris Kristofferson

Valeria Golino

Penelope Ann Miller

Susan Tyrell



The sequel to Pee-wee's Big Adventure, which was directed by Tim Burton, Big Top Pee-wee stars Paul Reubens in what is a brand new Pee-wee Herman adventure mostly divorced from the original film.

With Randal Kleiser taking over directing duties, Pee-wee now finds himself living on the farm. His iconic home from the first film is nowhere to be seen, Speck the dog is absent, the colorful world we came to know in Pee-wee's Big Adventure is no more. This feeling is matched in the story itself as Pee-wee copes with the fact that his life has changed so much. Pee-wee is in a relationship with Winnie (Penelope Ann Miller) but all they do is have sandwiches together, so there's some frustration there. And then, after a tornado, the circus crashes into Pee-wee's yard... 

Following Tim Burton's iconic first movie was always going to be tough but this sequel makes a fine attempt. The new setting and general vibe are jarring, at first, but the film invites you into this Big Top story so skillfully that you'll be in for the ride pretty quickly. Danny Elfman is back on scoring duties, though he introduces a brand new theme here, which is surprising also. Paul Reubens continues to be a riot as the bizarre man-child Pee-wee, while Kris Kristofferson brings some good old-fashioned earnestness to the film giving it a timeless old Hollywood feel. The love triangle between Pee-wee, Winnie and trapeze artist Gina (Valeria Golino) should mostly entertain less young viewers because of the edgier humor and innuendos.

Big Top Pee-wee feels very different but it also makes sense as a sequel. Dropping Pee-wee in a fresh environment keeps things new but the tone isn't a departure from the one set by Tim Burton, it just works in its own unique way. It lacks the energy and visual punch of the original, true, but it's funny, clever and it has a good amount of charm.

This one deserved better.

film & game reviews, the retro way.

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