Starring: Paul Reubens, Joe Manganiello, Jessica Pohly, Hal Landon Jr., Diane Salinger, Stephanie Beatriz, Alia Shawkat
Directed by: John Lee
Written by: Paul Reubens, Paul Rust
Rating: TV-13 Running Time: 1 hr. 30 min
So my day started with me finally catching up with Pee-wee’s latest road trip, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. And since Netflix also had Pee-wee’s first feature-length film available, 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, I figured, what the heck, and I watched that too. That’s 3 hours of Pee-wee. Not a marathon I planned on, and certainly one I won’t repeat any time soon.
That’s not to say I disliked these films, I didn’t. It was interesting to see how the character and indeed, Paul Reuben, had changed over the 31 years between the two movies (not much it appears, but kudos to the makeup department anyway). It’s just spending that much time with, let’s be honest, an annoying man-brat, gets old after the first couple of hours.
In what was Tim Burton’s first full length feature film, Big Adventure was a fun romp blending the visual elements we’d come to expect from the quirky gothic auteur, and the bright colors and textures you’d find in a classic 50’s American diner. It was silly, and worked, thanks to the committed and energetic performance from Paul Ruebens, and the stonking score from Danny Elfman.
Big Holiday is essentially the same film as Big Adventure. Pee-wee hits the road to achieve a goal, and along the way makes friends with an assortment of wacky characters before eventually arriving at the film’s third act. Women fall in love with him (though he never seems that interested), and he always seems to land on his tasseled white loafers.
This time however, the commitment from Mr. Reubens, and indeed the score, direction, and production design, just aren’t as polished or as lively as before. And the vague nods to Pee-wee’s sexual preferences in Big Adventure, are more bluntly expressed in Big Holiday. Made very clear in one of the film’s prerequisite dream sequences where Pee-wee is seen riding a giant piñata literally jousting with the very “developed” Magic Mike star, Joe Manganiello.
Big Holiday isn’t loaded with fresh new ideas, but isn’t a complete waste of time either. If you enjoyed Tim Burton’s film in 85, you’ll probably enjoy this outing for the character too.
Big Adventure: To prove he’s in Texas, Pee-wee steps away from the phone and yells to the passing Texans, “The stars at night, are big and bright!” And the crowd respond by clapping four times and saying “deep in the heart of Texas!”
Big Holiday: The Rube Goldberg style opening is clever and fun to watch.