47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Tim Burton, USA 1985, 90 minutes
Shaggy-haired dark prince Tim Burton is one of the only geniuses working in American cinema today. He is one of a handful of visionary directors whose style is instantly recognisable (has anyone ever said "Hey, this looks like it must be a Ron Howard movie!"?) and who is not afraid to make his films works of art. The bigger budgets granted him following his Batman success have allowed him to (perhaps self-indulgently) bring us some of the most lavish and beautiful films of recent years.
He started out, however, with this deliciously kitsch road movie. Using the considerable talents of comic Paul Reubens, Burton here explores one his favourite themes - that of the outsider. From Beetlejuice to Batman, from Edward Scissorhands to Ed Wood, his characters are all outcasts of some description, and Reubens's Pee-Wee is no exception. From his ill-fitting suit to his glittery bow-tie, from his ruby-red lips to his nasal, child-like voice, Pee-Wee Herman is like nothing you have ever seen before.
The plot concerns Pee-Wee's quest to find his stolen bike (the love of his life); a quest which takes him from his hometown all the way to Texas, by way of a fortune teller, a life-size plastic dinosaur, and some of the weirdest characters ever committed to celluloid. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, like all Burton films, takes place in a world that is recognisably our own, but unmistakably alien. With its pastel pinks and its neon greens, with its ghostly truck drivers and its motorcycle gangs (`Satan's Helpers'), with its unsettling blend of whimsical naïveté and dark menace, Pee-Wee's world is one of the most fascinating places you will ever spend an hour and a half.
"Truly weird and wonderfully addictive" - Time Out
Review by Ben Stephens
Taken from EUFS Programme 1996-97