I Know You are, But What am I?

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is pure nonsense. Pee-wee Herman is the brainchild of comedian Paul Reubens. The childlike entertainer with a silly voice, goofy laugh, grey suit, and red bowtie. Although I always assumed his TV show came first, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was only made after the success of a live stage performance. Reubens and late comedian Phil Hartman wrote the script themselves, but it’s the director who people will remember. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is the unexpected directorial debut of Tim Burton.

Even though Pee-wee Herman seems like a perfectly innocent character, there is something a little creepy about a grown man acting like a child. The movie is very proto-Burton with all of his motifs on display. Stop motion animation, a cooky Danny Elfman score, scary clowns, a loner protagonist, and a fat rich antagonist. Pee-wee is a self-described rebel who lives in an imaginative playhouse. His prize possession is a fancy red bicycle. Like The Bicycle Thief, the entire plot centers around Pee-wee desperately searching for his lost bike. It’s a funny adventure that gets crazier with every colorful character he runs into.

Beloved voice actress E. G. Daily makes a rare appearance as Dottie, a cute bicycle shop employee that Pee-wee constantly turns down. Mark Holton is the prime suspect as Pee-wee’s rich snobby bully Francis. Pee-wee ends up on his way to the Alamo where he meets an escaped convict, truckers, hobos, a repressed waitress, and bloodthirsty bikers. The most memorable encounters are the out of nowhere jump scare with the ghostly Large Marge and Pee-wee dancing to “Tequila” in a bar. Ending with a bonkers bike chase through Hollywood. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is fun for the young and the young at heart.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Pee-Wee Herman on his bike

Followed by: Big Top Pee-wee

4 thoughts on “I Know You are, But What am I?

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