Friday, August 12, 2011

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Paul Reubens is Pee-Wee Herman, a loner and a rebel, looking for his stolen bike. It's like a remake of neorealist classic The Bicycle Thief! Directed by Tim Burton.

It's Tim Burton's first film and possibly his funniest. The Burtonesque touch is there right from the beginning, but there's also a pre CGI charm that is often missing from his later films. The film is obviously made on a low budget but has a lot of imagination. I'd say the Alamo and the biker bar sequences are my favourites. Re-watching it now, I had forgotten the bit with Twisted Sister.


  1. Thats an excellent movie, some of the imagery (like the dinosaur park) is really beautiful and surreal. Its an amazing 1st film for a young director and theres really no way you can follow up a film like that in terms of off beat weirdness and fun craziness, unless you made Beetlejuice. But lucky for Burton he did. The string of films he made over the next 10 years is still astounding: Edward Sissorhands, Ed Wood, the 2 Batman flicks and Mars Attacks! I've cooled a bit on the Batman films mainly because I was so saturated by them for so long when they came out, but is this current climate of taking Batman waaaaaay to seriously its nice to watch those Burton Batman films and remember that you can make a good, stylistic film with a serious story without being so self consciously "gritty" (sorry, god I hate that word, sorry sorry).

    As for Pee Wee, I just watched the 1981 Live @ the Roxy show again the other night and it likewise plays perfectly, all the jokes land, everyone really sells their character. Theres an energy, an almost punk rock irreverence to that show. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see that show live in '81, not knowing what to expect.

    2 final notes: Panters production design on the Roxy show is amazing. Its hard to watch Phil Hartman, he was such a unique and amazing talent.

  2. It's very popular now to say that Burton has sold out, something I don't believe is true. And it's not his fault that Johnny Depp suddenly is the most popular moviestar in the world. He can be pretty uneven, though. Ed Woods is probably still my favourite film of his; he then followed that with what I find to be his weakest film, Mars Attacks. Anyway, I look forward to Dark Shadows...

  3. "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" is still my favorite Tim Burton film of all time. It's the only one that's rewatchable for me and it has elements of other great films, such as the great Frank Tashlin's "Hollywood or Bust," the final Martin and Lewis vehicle. "Ed Wood" is probably second for me.

    Somehow, he's become one of my least favorite filmmakers. He's fallen into this rut as the Disneyfied Goth guy. I find most Tim Burton films unwatchable. I have no interest in his remakes of films that were done better ("Planet of the Apes," "Charlie/Chocolate Factory") and I never liked his Batman movies, especially the dull second one. If "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was imperfect, at least he was trying something interesting. I couldn't get through more than the first few minutes of "Alice in Wonderland" once she fell down the hole.

    Regarding your other post commenting on when Hollywood used to make movie for adults, I agree. It takes some digging around but there are some really interesting stories being told for adults. I just saw a great film by the director of "Training Day" called "Brooklyn Finest" (2009), a very underrated or overlooked corrupt cop tale with amazing performances from Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Wesley Snipes and even Ethan Hawke. Highly recommended.

    "Thor" was entertaining, by the way. "X-Men: First Class," even better. "Green Lantern" and "Captain America," not so much.