Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Movies: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

In a lot of ways, I think Paul Reubens was unfairly railroaded during his early '90s scandal because of his status as a children's TV show star. When he was caught masturbating in an adult movie theater, it was embarrassing, but the repercussions one small indiscretion would have on his career were far-reaching (compare and contrast with other, more serious breaches of the law by other Hollywood stars, and the hypocrisy becomes evident).

"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" is from a halcyon time, though, when everything was happier. Reuben plays Pee-Wee Herman, a perpetual man-child who, though annoying, is mostly the good guy. The film concerns Pee-Wee's search for his missing bicycle, which takes him on a cross-country journey meeting a motley crew of characters. It's Tim Burton's directorial debut, which already makes it special, but the added performance of Paul Reubens is what really makes this movie work. In many scenes, Reuben displays throwback form, evoking the great silent film stars in his facial energy and body language:

To be honest, I didn't really enjoy the movie as a child, but it was memorable, that's for sure. The final chase scene, where Pee-Wee eludes dozens of Warner Bros. studio security guards across a madcap backlot, is both a breezy finale and a tongue-in-cheek nod to the film's limited budget. And the ending, which features one of the best James Bond parodies ever made, wraps up the whole affair neatly.

Rating: 7/10


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