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Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Movie Review

bike burton classic bros

1985 – Tim Burton –

With unbelievable antics and his classic annoying laugh, Pee-Wee Herman sets off on his “big adventure” to recover his stolen bike (the one streamlined, red-chromed, glorious perfection that means almost as much to him as his dog Speck). Children and child-hearted adults alike will sympathize with Pee-Wee, the victim of a senseless robbery by the neighborhood bully, who coveted the priceless bike.

In a whirlwind of fantastical events and classic Tim Burton fun, Pee-Wee rides the rails, sets a rodeo record, assists an escaped con, hitches a ride with a ghostly truck driver, barely evades a barroom brawl, disrupts filming on a Warner Bros. set, evacuates a burning pet shop, and lands a bit role in his own movie. As Pee-Wee searches in vain for the one thing that means freedom and independence to any child, his bike, he learns things about himself and about life. In a rare sentimental moment, he confides to his waitress-friend, Simone (Diane Salinger), “They don't tell you that stuff in school. It's just something you have to experience.” Despite the fact that this occurs in reference to the Alamo's alleged, non-existent basement, Pee-Wee's journey to find his beloved bike results in more than its simple recovery.

Lighthearted and farcical, Pee-Wee's adventures become a warped wild-goose chase that might become tiring if not for Burton's imaginative style. The montages, like the final chase sequence, show a fondness for sight gags that recalls silent comedy and classic Warner Bros. cartoons. In one example, after Pee-Wee loses his bike, the sidewalks suddenly swarm with bicycled passers-by. He sits on a bench in dejection as odd things peddle in and out of the frame on all sorts of wheeled contraptions. The film also marked the movie debut for Burton, and his imagination enlivens moments such as Pee-Wee's walk down a rainy street at night throwing monster shadows against a wall and the dream sequences (one of a dinosaur, another of ambulance clowns who try to weld the bike in a fun-house hospital set). In a series of nonsensical events and zany settings, Pee-Wee's feature film debut is highly enjoyable if viewed only as a circus charade. Pee-Wee doesn't take himself too seriously; why should we?

Cast: Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), Elizabeth Daily (Dottie), Mark Holton (Francis), Diane Salinger (Simone), Judd Omen (Mickey), Irving Hellman (neighbor), Monte Landis (Mario), Damon Martin (Chip), David Glasser (BMX Kid), James Brolin (P.W.), Morgan Fairchild (“Dottie”), Tony Bill (Terry Hawthorne), Phil Hartman (reporter), Twisted Sister (himself), Milton Berle (himself) Screenwriter: Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens, Michael Varhol, Victor J. Kemper Composer: Danny Elfman Producer: Richard Gilbert Abramson and Robert Shapiro for Warner Bros. MPAA Rating: PG Running Time: 92 minutes Format: VHS, LV.

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