Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Directed by Tim Burton. US. 1985. 7+. 90 minutes. Warner. 35mm.
Sat., March 18, 2017
“Everything about Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, from its toy-box colors to its superb, hyperanimated Danny Elfman score to the butch-waxed hairdo and wooden-puppet walk of its star and mastermind, Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens), is pure pleasure. Pee-wee’s beloved bicycle — a gleaming, souped-up version of every ’50s dream bike you ever saw advertised in the back of a comic book — has been stolen. Spoiled rich kid Francis (Mark Holton) may or may not be the thief. Pee-wee’s search for the missing bike leads him to strange and exotic locales like the Alamo, a movie studio, a biker bar and a truck stop complete with nearby dinosaur exhibit.
Pee-wee was Burton’s first full-length feature, and every scene is a marvel of visual ingenuity. One example: Pee-wee’s home is furnished with a breakfast machine, a Rube Goldberg-type contraption that features, among other things, a flying pterodactyl skeleton with little clamps on its toes, from which it drops two pieces of bread into the appropriate toast slots. With Pee-wee Burton established himself as a movie director with an art director’s touch. In his commentary, he notes that he has a penchant for moving things around a lot to get just the right look. “I guess I’m just a frustrated interior decorator,” he says. If only we could get him to redecorate the world.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com)