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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25%
Average: 5.56%
Pretty Bad: 1.39%
Total Crap: 2.78%

3 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Pee Wee's Big Adventure
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Paulapalooza

"So good-naturedly silly that it's hard to dislike"
4 stars

When I first saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure on video in the mid-80's, my initial assessment was that it was made by crack babies before I would have known what crack babies were. It was stupid, sophomoric, silly, and any other number of s-words I could muster. Yet if it came on television and I just happened to be watching, I wouldn't change the channel if you know what I mean.

As I got a little older and began to realize both that because a film isn't IMPORTANT in all capital letters doesn't man that it can't have quality, and that I for the most part liked this young turk director Tim Burton and that his first feature WAS Pee Wee's Big Adventure, I had to re-think my position on perhaps the greatest fetishistic technicolor PG-rated exercise of the decade of excess.

You know the story. Boy loses bike, boy goes on road trip to find bike, boy encounters colorful characters, boy locates bike at Warner Brothers Studios, chase ensues, movie-within-a-movie ensues. It could be, and probably SHOULD be, utter crap, and it IS utter crap if you have no patience for sheer witlessness. But it works for a lot of reasons.

First, Pee Wee Herman's sustained pre-adolescence makes the whole enterprise good, clean fun. Pee Wee remains a wholesome, good-natured little kid in a man's body whose single-mindedness of purpose doesn't preclude him from helping people on his journey and they, likewise, being taken by his goodwill and helping in return. Even the scant sexual references can be explained away to the six-year-olds who would want to watch the film over and over again

Second, the vibrant color and design of the whole enterprise makes the proceedings often seem a cartoon come to life. Props here go to director Burton who, while showcasing an indifference to actual ACTING, shows himself to be a visual stylist without peer, even on the limited budget available for a Pee Wee Herman movie. And who needs real acting in this sort of over-the-top movie anyway---all the thespians acquit themselves nicely even if they sometimes step over their lines.

Third, the wonderful score by first-time feature film composer Danny Elfman is stunningly good in the great tradition of Carl Stalling. The music is bombastic, wacky, and not at all subtle, just like the movie it accompanies. A live-action cartoon needs cartoon music, and Elfman provides a circus funhouse disguised as an orchestra.

Fourth, the aforementioned colorful cast. Particularly good are Elizabeth (E.G.) Daily (now more known for cartoon voices than for being in "Valley Girl") as Dottie, the bicycle store clerk with an unrequited crush on Pee Wee, and Judd Omen as Mickey, an outlaw mattress vandal. And who could forget Amazing Larry, Large Marge or the Satan's Helpers, cultural totems of a generation?

In the end, Pee Wee's Big Adventure works because it strives to achieve a certain tone and effect, and in its ninety minute running time it's success rate is well above 90 percent. It never aspires to be anything other than a paean to childhood fantasy with dinosaurs and toys and magic tricks and James Bond gizmos stowed on the coolest bicycle in your neighborhood. Sure, it's not IMPORTANT, but it's fun.

A lot of fun.

It's quite simply arrested manchild humor at it's zingy best.

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originally posted: 05/09/00 08:56:15
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User Comments

2/25/14 dr.lao I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would 4 stars
1/11/11 liddie any body see the connection to de sica's Bicycle thief 5 stars
8/29/09 Dane Youssef A defining moment in my very childhood. Does as much for children as Mia Farrow 5 stars
2/03/08 Anne Loved the humor and innocence 5 stars
8/12/07 Bitchflaps Innocent fun, one of Tim Burton's very few good films. 4 stars
2/20/06 chris f this film rocks!!!! 5 stars
8/06/05 Zack Tim Burton's hilarious first film. Great script from Phil Hartman(!) 5 stars
8/06/05 the sliceman Im 32 yrs old and overly excited when I find this on tv 5 stars
1/25/05 Jeff Anderson TIM BURTON'S MASTERPIECE! Memorable characters & a terrific Danny Elfman score are a blast! 5 stars
10/29/04 Nitro Methane The best part is the last 10 minutes 5 stars
9/04/04 T.B. It stupid to look for a bike 1 stars
6/21/04 Daveman Wonderfully bizarre, this is Tim Burton at his most humorous, better than Beetlejuice. 4 stars
3/25/04 Lord Haw Haw Hilarious, imaginative, just plain fun. Too bad he destroyed his own career. 5 stars
2/23/04 Naturezrevenge You'd have to be a real curmudgeon not to laugh at Pee-Wee's antics. Fast-paced cartoon fun 5 stars
1/09/04 Allison I'm proud to have this in my DVD collection! I KNOW YOU ARE, BUT WHAT AM I? Genius!!! 5 stars
11/02/03 Lorax This movie kicks ass! "NO NOTHING RIGHT NOW MR. HERMAN!" 5 stars
6/22/03 cochese I cant get past the masterbation thing. 3 stars
6/08/03 earl hoffert insanely subversive 5 stars
4/26/03 John Aster Habig Funnier than all Ernest films aside from Ernest Goes To Jail 5 stars
1/03/03 rotten s. milk Better than that stupid fucking "Big Top Pee-wee". 5 stars
10/16/02 Charles Tatum Hilarious, even for un-Pee Wee fans 5 stars
10/08/02 Kitfo the Citizen Kane of my generation 5 stars
2/15/02 dick ryder the best movie ever 5 stars
12/17/01 SPANKSTAR Great movie. Children these days are deprived 5 stars
8/24/01 J.C. Great Flick 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Burton's debut is a childhood favorite. Still funny after all these years. 5 stars
8/07/01 Angel Fabulous Movie, a classic 5 stars
6/29/01 Elvisfan Great fucking movie.what the hell were you people watching? 5 stars
5/21/01 Ray McCoy I'm sorry, there wasn't enough momentum in the story, and the jokes were rather dry 3 stars
2/15/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Pee-Wee Hermans finest hour...don't knock it till you see it. 4 stars
1/03/01 Stefan Youngs Amazing character, great escapism. A charming film. 5 stars
11/29/00 matt ralston my favorite movie of all time! 5 stars
10/29/00 Big Al pee wees in under rated actor hes so good its scary 1 stars
9/12/00 Jed Forget Sleepy Hollow & M.A or the modern batflicks 1 & 2 this is T.B's best. 4 stars
8/09/00 rhettibus replete with brilliant gag after brilliant gag 5 stars
6/06/00 Bender So retarded, you can't help but laugh 4 stars
5/09/00 The Bomb 69 hilarious 5 stars
5/08/00 Paul Klenk Screamingly funny, side-aching laughs, juvenlie/infantile humor ever. P.W. is inspired! 5 stars
3/06/00 Jamie Funniest movie ever! 5 stars
12/18/99 SID The feel and look of the movie is so unique, I have to reccomend it. 4 stars
12/03/99 Rachel funny, cleverly stupid, slightly psychotic movie 4 stars
9/09/99 Jason Kinsey I've loved this movie since I was 7 5 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: ** (out of ****) Category: "Above Average" 4 stars
3/28/99 HeatherLadyBug go pee-wee, go pee- wee! 4 stars
1/25/99 Chloe Marie Ernestine ( This movie is one of my favorites. It's terriffic!! "Tell 'em Large Marge sent you." 5 stars
11/05/98 tom blah--pee wee makes me nauseous 2 stars
10/31/98 Silent Rob Twisted magic from the minds of Herman, Hartman and Burton. Godzilla and Santa, sheeesh! 4 stars
10/23/98 Negative Creep That 'Rebel' line is great. And So is this Movie. PAGING MR. HERMAN! 4 stars
10/22/98 CaptNish Phil's dead and Paul's career is, but damn could those two write a flick... 5 stars
10/21/98 Kwyjibo Not enough depth to fill a feature film. Some funny moments but overall boring. 3 stars
10/21/98 J-Guy I PITY THE FOO' THAT DONT SEE DIS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/21/98 Johny An offbeat, extremely funny flick 5 stars
10/21/98 grunter Surreal playfulness, stylish, edgy and genuine belly-laughs; Reubens and Burton are GOD 5 stars
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  02-Jul-1986 (PG)


  02-Feb-1987 (PG)

Directed by
  Tim Burton

Written by
  Phil Hartman
  Paul Reubens

  Paul Reubens
  Elizabeth Daily
  Mark Holton
  Diane Salinger
  Judd Omen
  Irving Hellman

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