Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I'm a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

There are no words to describe how weird (but wonderful) Tim Burton's film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is. This is Burton's directorial debut, and it's easy to see many of the traits which have become his trademark throughout the film: a surreal, otherworldy setting; strange yet still endearing characters; and dark, wacky humor. Of course, it's also a vehicle for the then children's television star Pee-Wee Herman, before his infamous incident, and so it contains much of his extremely weird humor. The composer Danny Elfman, Burton's frequent collaborator, also provides a playful, loopy soundtrack that is perfect for the film.

The plot is ridiculously, laughably simple. Pee-Wee is basically a grown-up child and his heart is broken when his beloved bike is stolen. Therefore, he embarks on a cross-country adventure to save his precious bike. This is mostly a set-up for him to get in all sorts of ridiculous situations, but they're hilarious. The storyline and star make this seem like more of a kid's film, but I think it's also extremely appealing for older viewers (with the right sense of humor). Much of the humor in the film is slightly dark or dry and so more appropriate for older viewers. Of course, the most enjoyable part of the movie is in seeing how the weird, child-like Pee-Wee gets in and out of ridiculous situations. My favorite part is when he rescues various pets from a burning pet store, leaving the snakes for last. Most of all, unlike many other 80s films, this film doesn't feel dated at all and feels timeless. Like many of Burton's other films, it seems to exist in a world unto itself, one which is much like ours but still strangely different.

Although I loved this film, I wouldn't say it's for everyone. It's so strange that it's almost shocking at first, and the humor is very wacky. Burton's signature surrealism and darkness also aren't for everyone. And the character of Pee-Wee is one that you'll either love or hate. But if you enjoy Pee-Wee or love Tim Burton films, this is a must-see. I'd also recommend this film to anyone who has a really weird sense of humor and loves ridiculous situations, or who really really loves their bike just like Pee-Wee does.

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