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Tim Burton



Phil Hartman

Paul Reubens

Michael Varhol


Paul Reubens

E.G. Daily

Diane Salinger

Mark Holton

Erica Yohn



Tim Burton's first film takes everyone's favorite manchild Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) on a wild adventure across America to recover his stolen bicycle.

Released in 1985, Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a beloved cult classic and it's easy to see why. Paul Reubens is instantly captivating, not to mention hilarious, as the giggling weirdo Pee-wee giving a comedic tour-de-force performance. Meanwhile, Tim Burton's unique style marries with The Pee-wee Herman Show's sense of humor effortlessly creating a truly eccentric road movie. We're introduced, first, to Pee-wee's bedroom: a kid's dream room complete with animated toys and weird, wacky stuff everywhere, contraptions that seem to do nothing at all but, in fact, make breakfast.

This is the beginning of Danny Elfman's collaboration with Burton and he does not disappoint as his score is both joyful, fun, circus-like yet also worthy of Bernard Herrmann's most distressing scores. The tone of the film is light and bouncy with unexpected slices of darkness giving Pee-wee's big adventure a bit of a dangerous vibe. Expect creepy clowns aplenty. The loss of Pee-wee's bike is a devastating event, cleverly foreshadowed and built-up. It hits Pee-wee like a bolt of lightning and his flawless dream world inevitably comes crashing down, which sets him off on his big life-changing trip.

It's a hard film to describe. Part-Jacques Tati, part Psycho, part Mr Bean... it takes the viewer to meet bizarre characters from ghost truckers to fugitives, and visit exotic locations like The Alamo or the Warner Bros. studio lot. Yet our unlikely hero continues being himself, resolute, enjoying the madness of the journey despite its many scary events. Pee-wee conquers his fears to fight for his biggest, most favorite toy and there is something so pure and goofy about that you can only root for him. There's an element of play to this whole adventure that makes it ridiculously endearing.

Here is a kids' movie like no other, that never talks down to its audience and, instead, provides them with one hell of a show. It doesn't really feel like Pee-wee's Playhouse, though some of that energy is indeed there, but that's for the best as Pee-wee's Big Adventure is not just a funny, very entertaining film but also a thrilling, heartfelt celebration of childhood and imagination.

One of a kind.

film & game reviews, the retro way.

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