Pee-wee's Big Adventure

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Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Genre: Adventure



Photography: Victor J. Kemper
Running Time: 91 minutes
Country: United States
Release Date: August 9, 1985
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Phil Hartman

Paul Reubens

Michael Varhol

Distributed by: Warner Bros.
Starring: Pee-wee Herman

Elizabeth Daily

Mark Holton

Diane Salinger

Judd Omen

Next film: Big Top Pee-wee (1988)

Pee-wee's Big Adventure is a 1985 American adventure-comedy film directed by Tim Burton in his full-length film directing debut and starring Paul Reubens as the titular character with supporting roles provided by Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, and Judd Omen. Reubens co-wrote the script with the late Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol.


The cartoonish and childish character Pee Wee Herman goes on a big adventure for the first time ever when his beloved shiny new bicycle is stolen by his nemesis Francis Buxton, a fellow man-child and neighborhood rich "kid." As he sets off on an obsessive cross-country journey, determined to recover it, learning about the real world along the way.

Why It Rocks

  1. The film faithfully adapts the wacky and surreal source material.
  2. Tim Burton's darkly comic imagination certainly helps and he gives the whole film an other-worldly feel to the whole thing, whether it be in the delivery of Herman's dreams or just the look of the film as a whole.
  3. It bubbles with the pure joy and exuberance of three talented people playing with a brand new toy.
  4. The dream sequences are outstanding, especially the clown dream. 
  5. Paul Reuben's iconic character certainly suits the material and his OTT/hyper style that helps the audience get into the very silly plot.
  6. Large Marge. The infamous scene scarred an entire generation for it's unsettling tone and nightmarish imagery.
  7. The keen music by Danny Elfman which remains one of his best scores, in fact, it was first orchestral score.
  8. The inclusion of Godzilla and Monster Zero was a real plus with a meta chase through Warner Bros. back lot.  

Bad Qualities

  1. Not all of it works of course, some of it misfires and isn't as funny as it would like to think that it is, however much of it is weirdly amusing and will be entertaining if you like Herman's style.
  2. Herman can be annoying but here he stays on the right side of irritating and he is amusing in his delivery.