50. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure


Movie: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Release Date: August 9, 1985

Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Paul Reubens, E. G. Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen.

Tag Lines: “You will believe a man can ride a bike.”

“The story of a rebel and his bike.”

Relevance: I remember watching and loving “The Pee-wee Herman Show” on HBO in 1981. Miss Yvonne, Captain Carl, Jambi as well as Pee-wee himself taped in front of an audience was the perfect introduction to a live theater show for me. What made it so memorable was the character of Pee-wee Herman. He was so much fun, childlike and silly. I remember watching that show over and over again with my father and laughing every single time. It was the perfect blend of both child friendly and adult humor and at the age of almost eleven, I appreciated both ends of that comedic spectrum. I mean “Got a license to sell hot dogs?” became a staple for me every time a male’s fly was down.

‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ was released in theaters in August of 1985. It received decent reviews and was a moderate hit at the box office. It definitely flew under my radar though as I was more focused on entering my Freshman year of High School. Pee-wee Herman was a character I remembered fondly, but not one that got me to the theater. However, when it was released to home media I was one of the first ones to rent the film.

My dad and I watched the movie together and just like “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” laughed hysterically. It was ridiculous, over-the-top and simple but so, so funny. There were so many gags and one liners that had both my dad and me crying from laughing so hard. “I know you are but what am I?” “I meant to do that.” “Be sure and tell them large Marge sent ya.” All of these quotes (and so much more) became very popular around my house and with my friends. The movie seemed to be one that all of my friends saw and enjoyed just as much as I did. By the time it made its rounds on HBO, it was a movie I watched hundreds of times and even became part of my family’s infamous “recorded on a blank VHS” movie collection.

Soon after, “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” became a popular kids show on CBS. Although I was fifteen and in my Sophomore year in high school, I watched it every Saturday morning. I always seemed to be a kid at heart. There was something so alluring and charming about the character of Pee-wee and he always made me smile and cheer (especially when anyone said the word of the day). I never missed an episode and often revisited both “The Pee-wee Herman Show” and ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” I couldn’t get enough of Pee-wee Herman.

Pee-wee remained a favorite character of mine and I have followed both his and his alias Paul Reubens’ career. From ‘Big Top Pee-wee’ to his infamous scandal to his “Heard any good jokes lately?” appearance at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards to ‘Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,’ I was right there cheering him on. To this day, Pee-wee, especially ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’ bring huge smiles to my face every time I think about it or watch it. He gets referenced and quoted at least once a week even to this day and those references show no signs of slowing down.

Today’s Thoughts: “You don’t wanna get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. So long, Dott.”

I can’t tell you how many times this gets said to my weekly by my husband. And it always makes me smile. Who knew that a childhood character that I loved at eleven would still bring me so much laughter at the age of forty-nine. Paul Reubens created such a pop culture icon and he is best represented in the Tim Burton cult classic ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.’

This movie still cracks me up. In fact, it still cracks up a lot of my good friends and family members. All I have to do is mention a quote from it and there is spontaneous laughter. Even something as simple as “Why? What’s the significance.” “I don’t know.” Instant. Laughter. Tim Burton and Paul Reubens were a match made in heaven and this movie is perfect comedy gold. I own the DVD and have watched it numerous times over the years, but I was just excited to sit down today and watch it again. It never gets old and always makes me laugh out loud.

‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’ is the perfect comedy to chase anyone’s blues away. It marks the beginning of my top fifty most influential movies of all time, and I couldn’t think of a better film to mark that milestone. If you want to laugh, and who doesn’t, be sure to check out Tim Burton’s directorial debut and seventh and final film on this blog (see 315. Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 300. Mars Attacks, 293. Ed Wood, 267. Edward Scissorhands, 172. Beetlejuice and 115. Batman for the other six).

Thank you Mr. Burton for all of your art.

Ways to Watch: Hulu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, DVD Availability.


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