August 7, 2023

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (1985)

My 7 reasons:

1. The animation of inanimate objects

2. Pee-Wee's Big Expressions

3. The most colorful cast of characters



amazing larry and mario
madam ruby
large marge


4. Magical interiors

5. Laugh-out-loud funny

take a picture, it'll last longer 

au revoir simone

remember the alamo

6. Movie within a movie

7. Pure magic


Paul Reubens, who created (and lived in) the Pee Wee Herman character, died this week at the age of 70. I am unfortunately a very late-to-the-game Pee-Wee fan, having seen Pee Wee's Big Adventure for the first time in November of 2021. But I became so enthralled with Pee Wee that I named our dog after a character in this movie

I might just be getting older, but it feels like in an objective, universal way, joy is being drained from the world (for reasons ranging from hypercapitalism, to the news cycle, the internet, climate change etc.). But even if it is just the fact that I'm getting older, it feels like there are less times and places where joy, silliness, absurdity are considered appropriate or even encouraged as an adult. Which is where Pee Wee Herman comes in for me. I experience him as an emboldening force; an incitement to childlike delight and joy, specifically geared to adults. Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a temple to silliness, a veneration of playfulness, an ode to earnestness; all things that feel harder and harder to hold onto as you get older. (Which, I suspect, is a reason that some people decide to have children 🫣)

I am trying my hardest to hold onto, express, and honor my inner child and her silliness, and it has felt like an important part of trying to eventually gain self-acceptance. Seeing silliness at work makes me feel more at home with myself and others. Reubens once attested to this objective in his work, which makes me love him all the more:

That sorta was the whole point of the show, or at least a big point of the show, was that it would be hard to stand out in the Playhouse. Everything stood out in the Playhouse, so you could feel right at home no matter who you are or what you were thinking or anything.
- Paul Reubens on NPR's Fresh Air in 2004 

To anyone who hasn't yet seen Pee Wee in action, I say: better to have laughed and lost than to have never laughed at all ❣️😊. RIP Paul Reubens, and thank you for the precious gift of joy that you so generously distributed