Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985) Poster

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Good fun if you're in the mood for it
bob the moo30 November 2003
Man-child Pee-wee Herman lives a magical life but has one possession that he treasures over all the others – his bicycle. The envy of the neighbourhood, his bike is his life and he is horrified when he finds it stolen. With the police unwilling to start a statewide search, Pee-wee sets out on an adventure to try and find his bike.

Pee-Wee Herman is a fairly acquired taste and won't please all audiences. I quite liked him here but couldn't have watched his show on a weekly basis. In this film though his `man-child' style and outlandish sense of humour really work out well. The plot is fairly pointless and just sparks off a road trip, which has a series of bizarre characters and adventures along the way.

Tim Burton's darkly comic imagination certainly helps and he gives the whole film an other-worldly feel to the whole thing, whether it be in the delivery of Herman's dreams or just the look of the film as a whole. Not all of it works of course, some of it misfires and isn't as funny as it would like to think that it is, however much of it is weirdly amusing and will be entertaining if you like Herman's style.

Herman can be annoying but here he stays on the right side of irritating and he is amusing in his delivery. He certainly suits the material and his OTT/hyper style helps the audience get into the very silly plot! Support is good and has lots of small roles that are weird and funny.

Overall this film is very much a matter of taste. If you like Herman then you should enjoy this film as it is very well done and is blessed with a real other-worldly touch by a great director in the making.
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Masterpiece from maligned genius
refill16 June 2000
Okay, so it loses a bit of steam in the final third, but that's true of most movies. It still rates a ten. The first film by Paul Ruebens, Tim Burton and the incomparable film composer Danny Elfman, it bubbles with the pure joy and exuberance of three talented people playing with a brand new toy. No film has ever been more fun to watch.

Reubens' media crucifixion in the early 90's was a crime against pop culture. America's snickering sanctimony stifled and virtually silenced one of the few original voices in the entertainment industry. I'm only thankful that Pee-wee lives on in video-land, so that my children and I can continue to enjoy his film and television work (the new DVD of "Big Adventure", by the way, is a treasure).

Pee-wee Herman, it's time to come back! Your loyal fans await your triumphant return. And to all those sicko name-callers out there, we have only one thing to say:

"I know you are, but what am I?"
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One of Tim Burton's best films and one of the great classic comedies of all time. ***** out of 5
pumpkinhead_lance29 June 2005
This is one of the earliest films I can remember watching as a kid. I mean I was literally obsessed with Pee Wee Herman. HEck, I even dressed up like him for Halloween and I'll even admit I dressed up like him when I got back from school. I had the white church shoes and everything.

I even dress up like him nowadays from time to time... no no, just kidding... come back! I was only kidding.

Anyways, Paul Reubens created one of the funniest characters to grace the big and small screens and this Tim Burton film certainly had an impact on my life. I sincerely believe this film had a lot to do with my love of films today.

As funny as the film is, it's the look of it that probably drew me in at such a young age. I mean, there are tons of jokes that just fly right over your head at that age. The fact that this crazy guy in a red bow tie was going cross country to get back his gadget laden bicycle was really cool.

That bike, man... how I wanted one. And still do. :-) "Brush Brush Brush... Brush Brush Brush!"

The dream sequences are outstanding, especially the clown dream. Quite possibly why I hate clowns to this day. The visions of Pee Wee standing there while the surgeons hand surgical tools to one another in front of him is something disturbing. Not to mention the unveiling of the lead surgeon. I mean, these are some profoundly disturbing images... and let's not forget Large Marge! Sheesh!

The music by Danny Elfman remains one of his very best scores. And to think it was his first orchestral score! Brilliant!

The inclusion of Godzilla and Monster Zero was a real plus as I have always been a huge Godzilla fan. The chase through Warner Bros. back lot is really awesome!

I can't praise the film enough. Definitely one that is among my Top 20 films of all time.
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One of the better pure comedies.
kevino-415 May 2003
My favorite Burton film, the only one under his direction I've seen where there is no heavy handed attempt to create a mood or an effect. In fact this is as straight a comedy as the Marx Brothers created in their films, totally without seriousness and with no opportunity to just do something funny passed by. Ruebens was inspired, well supported by cast, pacing and minimal props. His Pee Wee appears as a genuine person which gives the comedy enough bite to stick. This is a vastly underrated movie in my opinion and worth the consideration of anyone who likes to laugh.
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An overall success of laughter and class combined!
chrishewittpiano23 December 2002
Some people may think that this movie is silly, pointless, and has ridiculous scenes. But I, however, find it to be entertaining, very funny, and a good family movie made back in the 80's. It has a lot of jokes that are mostly the ones that are funny because they are weird and never seen anywhere else, but it does also have some one-liners that make even the most stern of audiences laugh. What I liked about this movie was that it had a lot of people involved in it. There were also a lot of locations that were shown in this film, even if the places were not the initial location that they intentioned of in the movie.

All of the characters gave pretty good performances that were done at optimum level of expectation. To be honest, I cannot think of any reason off the top of my head that could make "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" better. There are plenty of jokes as I have already said that make you laugh . The camera angles that they used also coordinated with the way that the jokes went together. The camera might be having a close-up frame and behind the character's back Pee-wee might do something to make that character turn around with the camera behind it. The things like that are what make this movie good.

My other favorite parts of this movie are the scenes of Pee-wee's house, that had a very creative touch to it, and how Pee-wee had such dedication to his "magical" bike. To see if I am right, you should go out and rent "Pee-wee's Big Adventure". I guarantee at least five long and hard laughs. With all of it's silliness combined, I give this movie ****/****, a 10/10. It was really a good experience to me.
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Pee Wee Herman + Tim Burton = MANIC FUN!!
InzyWimzy12 September 2002
Wow, deja vu.

I haven't seen this one since....years ago back when wearing wrist bracelets was popular. It brought back all these memories of the fun I had watching this a kid. Surprisingly, this is Tim Burton's first movie and he did a great job. His unique directing, visual design, and dark comedy just work superbly as a whole. I can never remember being so affected by clowns in hospital smocks.

Let's not forget Pee Wee as well. He was definitely a character who I enjoyed watching because he was so carefree, happy, and it was hard not to like him. There are so many great scenes in this one like breakfast time, the Alamo, Pee Wee's nightmares, any scene with Francis "YOU'LL BE SORRY PEE WEE HERMAN!" Buxton, Mickey the con, the Warner Bros lot and so many more. The characters are great too and from their performances, you can tell they had fun doing this film cause it shows. With a the limited budget, Pee Wee's wacky nature, and Tim Burton's imagination, it all adds up to a really entertaining film. Oops, can't forget Danny Elfman's great soundtrack which sets the tone rather nicely.

The DVD has great commentary from Paul & Tim and provides great insight into the film. Watch this one and remember:

"Be sure and tell them Large Marge sent ya!!"
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Why it's my favorite Tim Burton movie
Psycho8622 September 2002
I absolutely love everyone of Tim Burton's movies, but if I had to pick which one was my favorite, this would be the one. Why you ask? Well, first of all, this movie has everything. And I do mean everything. Horror, comedy, family fun, you name it. This movie scared me so much when I was a kid. I mean come on, that scene when you see all those clowns and the dinosaur, not to mention the "Large Marge" scene, were scary.

Simply put, I could pop this one in and easily watch it for lots of fun. Not saying that Tim Burton's other movies aren't fun, but this one can be watched under any circumstances. It's like the reason BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is my favorite John Carpenter movie.
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Oh yeah? Where are they hosing him down?
Boyo-25 September 2001
Hilarious movie and always will be. Has not aged one minute since I first saw it over sixteen years ago. You cannot say that about every movie, hell you can't say about about ANY movie!

Now that its one of the cornerstones of Comedy Central, its on quite often and I watch it from time to time. So do my nephews, who love to quote this movie more than any other one.

Paul Reubens really gave us a gift with Pee Wee. I guess the character was never meant to live forever and we will always have this comedy to enjoy. It was light years better than 'Big Top Pee Wee' which I also saw.

To the child in all of us, I say...'I know you are but what am I?'

PS For trivia fans, Simeone and Pee Wee were reunited by Tim Burton in 'Batman Returns', as the Penguins' parents.
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Recommended for people who like colorful visuals and absurd characters.
ccthemovieman-124 June 2006
Not ever being a fan of "Pee Wee Herman" (Paul Reubens), I found myself very surprised that I enjoyed this movie when it first came out on VHS and several viewings since (including on DVD.)

Despite Pee Wee's stupid character he's still a likable guy and the movie is outrageously funny, a tribute in part to the visuals of director Tim Burton. This is one of his earliest films and his first "hit." It began to stamp him as someone who could make stylish films with a good sense of the absurd.

It took four viewings until I finally got sick of Pee Wee's stupid laugh, which he overdoes and finally made me reduce the rating of the film from '9' to '7." This is another one of these films for kids and adults.

Once Pee Wee gets on the road looking for his missing bicycle, the films gets rolling and has some memorable stops on the way (large dinosaurs, his famous "Tequila" dance, "Large Marge" and other assorted strange scenes, all of which are very entertaining.)
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A man and his bike and Burton in the middle
TheMan305129 June 2002
Tim Burton in his directorial debut directs a masterpiece of a comedy. This movie which has Pee-wee Herman (Paul Rubens) in search of his stolen bike is hilarious and full of gags. Burton does a terrific job creating the world of a man-child which proves that Burton is one of the greatest directors of all-time. How many directors have struck gold in their first picture? This is a movie not to be missed and check out for E.G. Daily, the voice of Tommy in Rugrats, as Dottie a/k/a Pee-Wee's love interest.
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Come back, Pee-wee! All is forgiven.
WarpedRecord21 October 2007
When you look back at Paul Reubens' career, it's easy to forget what a joy "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" was. He followed it up with a disappointing sequel and, to some, an even bigger indiscretion in his personal life.

"Pee-wee's Big Adventure" is a rarity for a live-action film: A film for kids that adults might like even more. This road movie about Pee-wee's search for his stolen bicycle is colorful, imaginative, well written and even, gulp, educational in spots. After all, who would have thought that the Alamo doesn't have a basement?

Director Tim Burton's surrealistic touches provided an introduction to his quirky career, and Danny Elfman's score set the stage for brilliant soundtracks to come. The delightful walk-ons by Milton Berle, Phil Hartman, Jan Hooks and Twisted Sister make this a good one for the time capsule, and James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild are hilarious in the "Hollywood" version of Pee-wee's adventure.

"Pee-wee's Big Adventure" is a good movie to watch when you're depressed, and a better one to watch when you're happy. Whether you take it straight or with a shot of "Tequila," it holds up on repeated viewings.

Come back, Pee-wee! All is forgiven. We need you now more than ever before.
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"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure"
franciscollobet22 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The master of Italian Neorealism was undoubtedly and definitely Vittorio De Sica. He created important masterpieces such as "Ladri Di biciclette" or "Umberto D.". The master of parody is undoubtedly and definitely Terry Jones (along with the rest of the "Monty Python" team, of course). He created important masterpieces such as "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life" or "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". Tim Burton clearly understands both of them, and that can be seen in his comic masterpiece "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure".

In "Ladri Di biciclette" De Sica delivers the story of a man, Antonio, who needs his bicycle to work, during the post-World War 2 financial crisis in Europe. With the help of his son, Antonio looks for the bicycle until despair, and asks a "psychic" woman for help. One of the aspects that made "Ladri Di biciclette" a great movie was the transformation of the protagonist of the story. At first he was angry at his wife for asking the "psychic" woman for help, but then, at his desperation does it. As if nothing really matters anymore.

In "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" Burton makes a homage to this classic masterpiece. It is the story of a man, Pee-Wee (Paul Reubens, he's actually credited as "Pee-Wee Herman") who loves his bicycle more than anything else in the universe. One day it gets stolen. He looks and looks for it, but doesn't find it anywhere. He goes, and asks a "psychic" woman for help. At the end he finds it at "Warner Bros. Pictures" and causes a mess inside the studio.

The film is both, a tribute and a parody to De Sica's work as a director, but that's not what makes "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" great. What does make it great is that Burton shows love and inspiration to the original cinematic source material. One of the things that many great filmmakers, since Hitchcock, to Bresson, have taught us through history is that you can't compare different kinds of art. But De Sica and Burton belong to the same art, and both of them transcend with their films. The movie also makes a very intelligent homage to Federico Fellini, and his "mockumentary", "I Clowns". When it comes to art, very few people are better than Vittorio De Sica. When it comes to making a perfect imitation of art, Tim Burton is by far the best.
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Let's talk about your big but ....
pekinman22 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Chintzy, yes; silly, ineffably; hilarious, very; a masterpiece, probably not, but who cares.

I've heard it said that you either love Pee Wee Herman or you hate him. I can't imagine anyone hating him after they see this imaginative comedy. Paul Rubens is a very funny and talented man and it's a crying shame he's been ostracized by the hypocrites in Hollywood.

'Pee Wee's Big Adventure' was Tim Burton's breakthrough movie that launched him on what is now a brilliant career, a career that goes from strength to strength, with the occasional great film, like 'Edward Scissorhands', 'Ed Wood' and 'Big Fish'.

This is the only movie I know centered around the theft of a bicycle, other than Vittorio di Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves' which is anything but a comedy. Burton makes this slight plot line work and holds the viewers' interest through 90 minutes of absurdity and charm.

There are the now-usual Burton touches, like scary clowns and stuffed animals and startling facial effects, Large Marge, for instance. The film is a series of vignettes, like the Large Marge scene in the truck and the bikers in the desert and Mickey the convict running from the law and a very funny scene at the Alamo and Pee Wee riding a bull in a rodeo and a wild and wonderfully ridiculous chase scene through the Warner Brothers studios back lots and sound stages. It sounds banal but is very entertaining to watch.

There is a great deal of subtlety in the performances and they are easily over-looked if you happen to be rolling your eyes in disbelief at the childish naivety; sometimes Pee Wee's personality gets to people and they have to express their impatience, only to be re-engaged a moment later. Roll your eyes at your peril, this is very funny stuff, and the scenes never over-stay their welcome. There isn't a boring moment in the whole thing.

It even has a great ending which is the most notoriously difficult thing to write in a film script. Pee Wee gets a small role in a film about his big adventure in which he plays a hotel clerk, and it is a comic gem equal to some of Charlie Chaplin's better work. The 70s hunk, James Brolin, plays Pee Wee in the film within a film, and to see him in a Pee Wee suit with the red bow tie fighting international criminals with Morgan Fairchild is to see something wholly unique on film.

Kids and adults will love this comedy. It's good natured and sophisticated.
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This Movie is Great
jptiger412 June 2001
I know a lot of people think when they hear his name (PeeWee Herman) they think what a terrible actor and how not funny. But really this movie is great. There are so many funny parts to it that I find that whenever I watch it I can't help but laugh. I recently received this movie on DVD and I probably have watched it ten times. If you need a great laugh see this bodacious movie. The totally radical lines are great and who would have that he could swing on a vine like Tarzan on his bike. I loved how at the end they mad fun of all of the WB's stupid movies. This movie is a must have.
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A classic for the quirky people.
Uber_Nyasu27 March 2002
I remember seeing "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" when I was a little kid, laughing mainly because my older sisters were laughing. However, when this movie came out, my sense of humor officially began to gel. At age 7, I saw this movie on opening night with one of my sisters and our cousin. It actually appealed to my sense of humor but my sister and cousin were also rolling in laughter. It quickly became a family classic; a movie that I would come to watch over and over again. Fond memories came to attach themselves to it, and I will proudly admit to having the entire script committed to memory.

Nowadays, my sister and I use it as a bonding experience. We watch it together every time we visit one another, and we make friends endure it too! However, I never thought I would look so fondly upon such a silly movie.

When people think of Pee-Wee, his arrest in 1991 is usually the first thing that comes to mind. If you can look beyond that, and beneath the seemingly stupid exterior of the movie, it is possible to enjoy an unmatched delight of off-the-wall stupidity and unique humor.

With Pee-Wee and Francis portrayed right from the as grown men that act like kids in the sand box, it is clear that you're in for something truly bizarre. Dreamy conversation at a dinosaur-guarded truck stop, an amazing breakfast machine, and run-ins with Godzilla and Twisted Sister are just a few of the many hilarious traits of this movie. There are no boring parts at all, and `Pee-Wee's Big Adventure' will always reign supreme as a comic essential.
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Much more entertaining than Star Wars!
robot-cat18 February 2004
i'm appalled at the rating for this classic. what i gathered from the few negative nellies is that they were (a) not Pee Wee fans or (b) obsessive burton fans who think of this as one of his films, when really the comedy stylings of pee wee & phil hartman, both former groundlings, who are the heart and soul of this movie. i'm not saying burton didn't contribute, but that it was a collaboration between the three.

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Bizarrely charming
cricketbat27 December 2018
There is something bizarrely charming about Pee-wee's Big Adventure. Maybe it's the quirky characters. Perhaps it's Tim Burton's creative storytelling. Or it could be Danny Elfman's unique score. No matter what it is, this movie appeals to both children and adults...unless you're annoyed by Pee-wee Herman, that is.
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Classic, one of the best 80s movies that passed the test of time.
tsamandari-6164228 July 2018
The Tequila dance scene in the biker bar is my all time favorite scene from any movie. The casting of this movie was excellent, everyone in the movie was great.
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"Did anyone tell you that this is the private club of The Satan's Helpers?"
dworldeater17 July 2018
Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a very unique and fun film that I loved as a kid and still thoroughly enjoy as an adult. Our hero Pee Wee Herman goes on a cross country adventure to find his prized possession(his bike) which has been recently stolen. This is the directorial debut of Tim Burton on his first big feature film and as such is a wild, wacky and completely insane piece of demented, yet wholesome family entertainment with colorful visuals, crazy props and a great, totally fitting score from Oingo Boingo member Danny Elfman. Paul Reubens gives a brilliant performance to his character Pee Wee Herman that is an absolute pop culture icon of man child gone bonkers taken off his ritalin and bouncing off the walls from drinking too much Kool Aid for the duration of the film. The other support characters are all memorable and wacky as well and exist in its own fantastical universe. So, join Pee Wee, Mickey, Amazing Larry, Large Marge, Samone and the biker gang Satan's Helpers for a truly profound and insane cinematic experience that is a fun and overall satisfying journey. There is no other movie quite like this and no persona like Pee Wee Herman. This film is an absolute hoot and masterwork of film.
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Peep This Reviews
newblu9 July 2017
A man-child on an epic quest to reclaim his prized bicycle. Full of some of the strangest and most brilliant characters you'll ever see. It's quirky in the best ways and it's humor is wonderfully off-beat and bizarre. Needs to be seen for the opening breakfast scene alone...and just gets better.
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Somehow Succeeds
tfrizzell11 September 2000
"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" seems to be a prime example of a mess of a movie. However, I cannot help but like this strange film. Tim Burton's direction is uncanny and Paul Reubens' amazing enthusiasm as the title character make this film one of the strangest over-achievers in the history of the cinema. Actually a good film that never seems old or dated. 4 stars out of 5.
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"Is there something you can share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry?"
Hey_Sweden26 April 2015
Gloriously goofy, vividly designed feature film vehicle for co-writer / star Paul Reubens' enduring character of Pee-wee Herman, a snazzily dressed man-child who lives in a world of his own. Pee-wees' world is subsequently shattered when his beloved, custom built, all- important bicycle is stolen from him, and he embarks on a cross country journey to find it again. Along the way, he will encounter escaped criminal Mickey (Judd Omen), wistful diner waitress Simone (Diane Salinger), an ominous sounding trucker named Large Marge (Alice Nunn), a gang of bikers known as the "Satan's Helpers", and runs amok at Warner Bros. Studios.

This viewer can understand how a character such as Pee-wee wouldn't be to all tastes, but speaking personally, he has a blast with this amiable movie every single time. Debuting director Tim Burton, a former animator, was obviously the right choice to take the helm of such zany shenanigans. He and his production designer David L. Snyder have a great time with the material, which was conceived by Reubens, his fellow Groundlings member Phil Hartman (who has a bit as a reporter), and Michael Varhol. One good thing must be said, and that is that if one is seeing it for the first time, it has a gleefully unpredictable quality to it. The rich array of characters also helps to keep things interesting.

The whole chase through Warner Bros. Studios provides what are far and away the brightest moments. Pee-wee rides his bike through the sets of a beach party movie, a Christmas movie, a Godzilla movie (!), and, most uproariously, a Twisted Sister video.

Reubens is great fun as Pee-wee. Elizabeth Daily as Dottie and Ms. Salinger are endearing, and Mark Holton as Francis is a hilariously unsubtle villain. There are cameos for Morgan Fairchild, James Brolin, Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, and Tony Bill, and bits by the likes of Lynne Marie Stewart, John Paragon, Susan Barnes, Professor Toru Tanaka, Jan Hooks, and Jason Hervey.

Danny Elfmans' score is one of the heaviest assets. It's catchy and really sticks in your head.

An enjoyable film for kids and young-at-heart adults, with some inspired moments of twisted nightmare imagery.

Eight out of 10.
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Watch this movie and tell em Large Marge sent ya!!!
mpurvismattp6 January 2014
I love this movie so much that practically every time I see it on TV I am powerless against it's comedy magic, and that Dotty (meow, what a lil fox right?) . I would have my parents rent this gem from the video store when I was just a kid and I think I love it even more now then I did back then. Pee Wee's treasured bike gets stolen and he goes on a hunt for the missing two wheeled wonder, which takes him on a wacky road trip full of crazy characters. This movie is just pure joy from start to finish and you can really see the fingerprints of all the major influences (Ruebens, Hartman, Burton, Elfman, etc.). If you haven't seen it you wouldn't understand, couldn't understand, shouldn't understand (let me guess u don't understand? Right?). Watch this movie and you will.
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A Film With Just as Much Absurd Energy as its Frantic, Sugar-Raging Centerpiece
drqshadow-reviews10 July 2012
This is the stuff cult classics are made of, the kind of film that's so offbeat, unexpected, kitschy and contentedly niche-inhabiting that you can't help but wonder how a major studio ever gave it the green light. Paul Reubens lives and breathes this role, (literally - he's credited for the role of Pee-Wee as "himself") and he couldn't have asked for a better partner than the similarly quirky, fringe-dwelling director Tim Burton (in his first major picture). Reubens is genuinely larger-than-life in this loose collection of vignettes and skits, with the whole mess tied together with all the care and subtlety of a spaceship made of duct tape and cardboard. Even when he's not making a direct footprint on the screen, Pee-Wee's influence is positively oozing out of each frame, coating everything from the scenery to the wardrobe to the manic, impulsive style of shooting. It's a perfect interpretation of the character's famous stage show, an ideal introduction for the unfamiliar masses, and a natural launchpad to super-stardom. I'll grant that it's not for everyone, but for those of us with an appreciation for drag queens, John Waters, the B-52's and sixties housewife chic, it's a direct hit. It's that rare crossroads where unbridled mayhem, conscienceless good times and hysterical laughter collide in a loud, twisted, dirty ball of pandemonium. I think it's safe to say this will never be replicated, and I'm both overjoyed and deflated to realize it.
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sparklecat10 March 2004
A childlike man in a red bow-tie scours the country in search of his stolen bike, believing he will find it in the Alamo. In the basement of the Alamo. Just you try and tell me that isn't funny.

Paul Reubens is synonymous with Pee-Wee to many of us, and watching "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", one see why. The actor disappears into his character's giddy enthusiasm and childlike logic - and Pee-Wee becomes real. Director Tim Burton (this was his first feature) seems equally tapped into Reubens' fantasy world, giving the film the right energetic pace and some of that Burtonian visual pop. Everything coheres to make "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" one of the funniest, most watchable movies on the planet.
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