Retro Review: A Boy and His Bike: Is PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE a Hero’s Journey into the Heart of a Child?

Posted on: Aug 31st, 2011 By:

By Tom Drake
Contributing Blogger

Art Opening & A Movie Presents PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (1985); Dir: Tim Burton; Written by Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens & Michael Varhol; Starring Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton; Featuring pieces from the citywide Sopo Art Bike Show 2011;  Tues. Sept. 6, opening reception 8 PM with movie at 9:30 pm; Encore Sat. Sept. 10 at 3 PM; 35 mm; Plaza TheatreTrailer here.

In the spirit of Atlanta Retro, I shall mimic a feature of the old Infocom games with a short, medium and verbose description of this review of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE.

Short: A man. A plan. A Bike. A Truck. The Alamo.

Medium: Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) is a dork, nerd and geek who has never grown up and owns a house full of interesting crap. He has all kinds of gizmos that cook him breakfast and stuff. His prize possession is a bike which has secret magical powers. The village idiot (who happens to be rich) pays someone to steal the bike. The rest of the movie consists of Pee Wee Herman trying to get his bike back. He runs into all kinds of weird characters and finds weird places. In one memorable scene, he runs into the ghost of Large Marge (Alice Nunn). Be sure to pay as much attention as possible to the expression on Large Marge’s face when Pee Wee asks her what happened to her. Oh, and there is a happy ending.

Pee Wee races his beloved bike in PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURES. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

There is a romantic subplot with his friend Dottie (Elizabeth Dailey), as well as a movie being made about the movie you’re watching. Look, just leave common sense at the door; it’s just fun to watch. The music is by Danny Elfman and is some of his better stuff. Finally, there is an extremely memorable scene in the bar where Pee Wee dances for his life. Indeed, it’s probably the most well-remembered scene of the movie.

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