Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Screen 5 articles

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure


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  • Reubens always lets us feel superior to his creation, and when his character slips, as it does more than once in this first feature outing, his own condescension shows through. With all these safety features built in, this 1985 film is too well padded to qualify as genuinely radical wit, but in an even-toned, TV sort of way it's mildly amusing and inventive throughout. Tim Burton's direction is at best a neutral factor.

  • PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE is of course the feature debut of Tim Burton, who is perhaps the perfect directorial match for Reubens' funhouse comedy, and the film offers the curious objects, candy colors, and spoiled suburban malaise that have since become the hallmarks of Burton's all too successful career.

  • [Pee-Wee's Big Adventure] remains [Burton's] most emotionally-honest and just plain funnest movie. Its plot is a skeleton upon which, in best silent comedy fashion, vignettes stuffed with gags are draped. The end result is an unlikely fusion of BICYCLE THEIVES and PORKY IN WACKYLAND, Buñuel on laughing gas, Raymond-Scott-by-way-of-Danny-Elfman and Rube-Goldberg-meets-Ronald-Reagan.

  • Revisiting this gloriously anarchic, ceaselessly inventive bliss machine (which I saw bits and pieces of a gazillion times in first run, working concessions at a multiplex where it played) made me realize how un-daffy—or perhaps un-Daffy—American film comedy has since become.

  • It’s enormously validating to watch Pee-wee, with his petulance, his nasal laughter, and his joie de vivre. He’s a connoisseur of camp and kitsch, ostensibly male but unbound by masculinity; ostensibly straight yet sublimely gay... Comic discipline burnishes each of the precisely calibrated punchlines that dots his westward route. It’s a model comedy, not only in terms of technique but in its ethos as well: why do anything if not for passion and for fun?

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