Retro Review: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
In the days when big hair, high-waisted denim shorts, loose shirts and jumpers and bow ties were cool (wait, that’s today…), Tim Burton made his first full-length film.
It tells the story of Pee-Wee and how he travels far and wide over the United States of America in search of his beloved stolen bike.
The film begins with Pee-Wee waking up from a fabulously colourful dream of him winning a bicycle race, and is told by a machine to not go out of the house – which he ignores. Should’ve stayed in really, because his beloved bike gets stolen. Which he then sets out to find.
On his way, he meets plenty of colourful characters, some even dead. And when he finds his bike, he gets an offer of a film being made out of his story and then supposedly gets the girl.
She at least wants it. You don’t really get a resolution there. In the end when they are all watching the film about his story, he brings everyone something to eat and/or drink. Even Dotty – the girl who wants him. But instead of giving her the candy he bought her, he lets it rain all over her so she can’t eat it. What’s that about?
Overall the film isn’t really Burtonesque. It’s not dark, it’s not melancholy, it’s not gothic. In fact, it is overly colourful. But that is maybe to be expected since this is a children’s film.
Danny Elfman made the music, and it is a very Elfman-like soundtrack which adds to the Burton flavour to the film (if that makes sense). When you hear it, you just know it is Elfman at work and it is brilliant – probably one of the best things about the film.
It’s not a bad film, but Pee-Wee’s endless giggles drag it down. And you really want him to stop being such a jerk to Dotty. Even though it kind of sounds like “daddy” whenever Pee Wee says her name.. which is just creepy giving Reuben’s arrest history. But then again, there’s always something a little bit creepy about grown-up men playing kids.
The best scene is when Pee-Wee gets into a sticky situation at a Texan bikers club, and as a last request he dances a masterful Pee-Wee dance to Tequila.
Final Verdict: A colourful and fun film, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is obviously made for kids. But it just isn’t all that fun. Definitely not one of the worst Tim Burton films, but Pee-Wee’s character grits on the nerves. It looks like he’s supposed to be sympathetic, but in the end he’s just a selfish dick. He only thinks about himself and his bike first and foremost, even though there are a lot of people around him to like him. But Danny Elfman’s music is awesome. That warrants an extra star.