Today! Because I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel –
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Paul Reubens (x2), Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen, Alice Nunn, Jan Hooks, Jason Hervey, Cassandra Peterson, Phil Hartman, James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild, Milton Berle
Look, no one is more surprised than me that Pee-wee’s first big screen outing is still hanging around my favorite films list 30-some-odd years on, but here we are. I know there’s a certain section of the fandom that is still all-in on this movie, and would’ve proudly put it higher, but I’m a touch embarrassed. Me, someone who stuck Godspell ahead of 14 films on this list.
But why should I be embarrassed? Sure, Pee-wee objectively is kinda juvenile nonsense, but this movie so far transcended everything else connected to the character (except maybe the original brilliant stage show) that it only really fits the canon in that Pee-wee is the protagonist. This was Tim Burton at his hyper-inventive best! Surreal! Bizarre! Wonderfully inventive! His bicycle alone is an ingenious creation that drives the entire plot, from bizarro inventor’s house to the Alamo to the big screen.
We had this movie on a dubbed VHS as kids, and so in love were we with the Large Marge sequence that we rewound it while copying so that it straight up ran twice in a row during the movie. “And when they finally pulled the driver’s body from the twisted, burning wreck – it looked like this!”
Our second foray into 1985 (big ups to #400 Rocky IV!) was nominated for a TV Land Award for Best Movie Dance Sequence You Reenacted in Your Living Room, for the bar top “Tequila” (totally deserved), but the film has been too long ignored for its Best Adult Swimming Pool/Bathtub Brawl, pitting Pee-wee against Teen Wolf legend Mark Holton. Also, Best Window Shade Bedsheets and Best Bike Security Chain – let’s give credit where due, folks!
Despite having his hands all over #379’s Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton didn’t direct it, thus narrowly avoiding becoming the first Two-Timer director on the list. But Pee-wee himself does join the club thanks to his work on that Jack Skellington joint – Paul Reubens spotlight!