Pee-wee's Big Adventure

1985

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Critics Consensus

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure brings Paul Reubens' famous character to the big screen intact, along with enough inspired silliness to dazzle children of all ages.

87%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 45

79%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 113,254
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Pee-wee's Big Adventure Photos

Movie Info

Co-written by Paul Reubens and Phil Hartman, Pee Wee's Big Adventure marks the debut of director Tim Burton, who stamps the entire film with his quirky trademark style. The premise: Pee Wee (Reubens), an overgrown pre-pubescent boy sporting a molded Princeton cut, blush, lipstick, and a shrunken gray flannel suit, lives an idyllic life in his bizarre home (some have compared the remarkable set design to the expressionistic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) until someone nabs his most prized possession: a fire engine-red customized bicycle. He then embarks on an epic cross-country search to find his lost love, not to mention more than a little adventure. Along the way, he makes friends with various oddball characters, visits the Alamo, endures various hallucinatory nightmares, and has a supernatural run-in with a spectral trucker. In this reprisal of his popular standup routine, Reubens is wonderful as the nerdy man child; he plays it silly, yet he manages to imbue the role with some sensitivity without ever seeming maudlin. The score by Danny Elfman is terrific -- as is the case in nearly every film Burton has directed -- and the script is fresh and inventive. Some of the most memorable moments: the opening sequence involving Pee Wee's morning activities is a stroke of genius (note the bunny slippers and talking breakfast), as are the scenes at the truck stop, and the "Hollywood" version of Pee Wee's story at the end (starring James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild in surprise cameos). In all, Pee Wee's Big Adventure is a delightful film, enjoyable for children as well as adults. ~Rovi

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Cast

Paul Reubens
as Pee-Wee Herman
Mark Holton
as Francis
Judd Omen
as Mickey
Carmen Filpi
as Hobo Jack
Starletta DuPois
as Sergeant Hunter
Mark Everett
as BMX Kid
Bill Cable
as Policeman
Peter Looney
as Policeman
Ed Herlihy
as Mr. Buxton
Ralph Seymour
as Francis' Accomplice
Lou Cutell
as Amazing Larry
Raymond Martino
as Gang Member
Erica Yohn
as Mme. Ruby
Bill Richmond
as Highway Patrolman
Alice Nunn
as Large Marge
Ed Griffith
as Trucker
Simmy Bow
as Man in Diner
John Moody
as Bus Clerk
Alex Sharp
as Cowboy
Jason Hervey
as Kevin Morton
Bob McClurg
as Studio Guard
John Paragon
as Movie Lot Actor
Susan Barnes
as Movie Lot Actress
Lynne Marie Stewart
as Mother Superior
George Sasaki
as Japanese Director
Bob Drew
as Fireman
John Gilgreen
as Policeman at Pet Shop
Phil Hartman
as Reporter
Michael Varhol
as Photographer
Tony Bill
as Terry Hawthorne
Milton Berle
as Himself [uncredited]
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Critic Reviews for Pee-wee's Big Adventure

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (39) | Rotten (6)

Audience Reviews for Pee-wee's Big Adventure

  • Sep 03, 2016
    It's tough to enjoy something when every aspect of the film is strictly aimed at impressing children. Without heart, any sign of intelligence, or a cohesive plot, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is one big dud. There's nothing here for people over 7 years old. I like Tim Burton a lot. He always brings such a unique vision and style into every film he directs or produces. In fact, Big Fish is one of my all-time favorite films. So when I decided to look back at his filmography in preparation for Miss Peregrine later this month, I was excited to sit down and watch what I hadn't already seen. Sadly, Pee-Wee is lacking all of the nuances that make his later work so special. It's easily one of his weakest films. Of course I was aware going in that Pee-Wee isn't for everyone. In fact, there aren't many Burton films that appeal to everyone, but there has to be some joy in watching a ridiculously silly comedy for 90 minutes right? Or perhaps a side character that will be more memorable than the mess that is Pee-Wee himself? Maybe even a nice message that doesn't totally undermine the unique style of Burton? If I'm being honest, there's nothing redeemable to this story. Pee-Wee apparently owns the world's most sought after bike and it's unfortunately stolen, so he must muster up the strength and devotion to find it, at whatever cost. It's a journey that could have been as good as the legendary trip Ed Bloom took in Big Fish. Or at least as funny as Beetlejuice. I was hoping it would at least poke fun at its insane premise and give us a good laugh or two, but it never hits the way it should. To put it bluntly, these are adults who are playing roles that should be played by kids. It honestly gets to unwatchable point when Pee-Wee constantly gets distracted by every person he meets and spends 15 minutes doing nothing efficient and progressing the story in the absolute slightest. Realistically, it doesn't bother me that this movie is awful. I'm not the intended audience, but nor is it for 99% of the public. I'm sorry Tim Burton, I love your work, but I cannot stand everything about Pee-Wee. -Adults acting like kids -In unwatchable ways -Meandering plot does nothing to benefit story -Absurd premise turns out to be worse than it sounds 21/100
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2016
    It's an enjoyable film that young children would probably like. I didn't think this film was that funny. It had some funny scenes, but it didn't make me laugh out loud. It was also kinda creepy and at some moments scary.
    Tarin P Super Reviewer
  • Sep 27, 2015
    It's such an imaginative comedy and one that exists entirely in a realm of big, goofy, unapologetic fantasy. Ruebens' performance is utter perfection.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 11, 2014
    Tim Burton makes his directorial debut with the wacky comedy Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. The story is formulaic and trite, with Pee-Wee Herman embarking on a cross-country journey to find his lost bicycle; making new friends and getting into crazy shenanigans along the way. Paul Reubens throws himself into the part, giving his best Pee-Wee performance. But with that said, the character is hard to take in large doses and he's not exactly a sympathetic hero. Despite a few laughs here and there, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure really isn't worth going on.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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