Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger
Have I Seen it Before: Many, Many Times.
Did I Like It: There’s a reason Pee-Wee and Tim Burton have hung around in our natural consciousness. It is this movie.
It’s so rare that a movie can be so steeped in old sensibilities (Bob Hope road pictures, Bond movies, Godzilla, Beach Party pictures, and Chaplin’s Little Tramp can all be found in the DNA) and blaze such a trail for movie comedies yet to come. From Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) to Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990, and another favorite), to even <this movie>, Big Adventure’s influence is all around us.
The first few minutes of the movie are so chockfull of imagination (and low budget animation to boot!) that upon first viewing, one couldn’t help but be forgiven for assuming that the movie won’t let up from there.
Yes, Batman (1989) is what cemented Burton’s reputation as the occasional maker of undisputed box office charm, but both this and Ed Wood (1994) (his two films that I think age the best) tell us that his first and main love were the sensibilities of weird B-pictures. I wished he would keep making films like this, instead of the watered down gothic fantasies that he must think Hollywood demands of him. The fact that Danny Elfman doesn’t write more scores like this is kind of depressing as well.
Pee-Wee’s relationship with his bike is such a purely Spielbergian idea, but refracted through the lenses of Burton and Reubens, are able to go in far more wry directions. I remember being a boy and looking at my bike like that, even if it couldn’t do all of the things that Pee-Wee’s rig could. If I sold the rights to my life story, I’d probably want James Brolin circa 1985 to play me, too. The movie celebrates the obsessive, the spazzy, and the myopic elements within us all, and never loses sight of the fun in the journey.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I don’t want to hear your excuses. But what? Everyone I know has a big “but…” C’mon, Simone. Let’s talk about your big “but.”