Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Pee-wee's Big Adventure ★★★★★

I may have seen this film more times than any other film in my life -- certainly in my adult life. But on Sunday, March 8, 2020, I was lucky enough to see it at the Majestic Theater in Dallas for a 35th anniversary screening. Paul Reubens was in attendance, and did an hour-long presentation afterward. A pleasant surprise was discovering that Mark Holton (who played Francis Buxton) was in the sold-out crowd, and it seemed like it might simply be because he lives in the area (but I can't say for certain).

Anyway, this was not my first time seeing the film in a theater -- I saw it at an Alamo Drafthouse in Austin back in 2001 or 2002(?). However, this was a much different -- and utterly transcendent -- experience. While I spent much of my formative years at the movies, I had forgotten over the past two decades what it felt like to watch a film with a packed crowd that is completely loving everything happening on screen. I'm not saying I haven't had some memorable/rapturous filmgoing experiences since the Nineties, but they've been few and far between (and that's not really counting events like screenings of The Room). I have always considered this movie a masterpiece, and easily one of my favorite and most enjoyable movies of all time. Along with Ed Wood, I think it's one of Tim Burton's two best films. I also think it topped my Best Films of 1985 list, with all due respect to runners-up like Blood Simple and Back to the Future. PWBA is just a completely pleasurable cabinet of curiosities -- a visually engaging carnival of wonders that manages to weave a fun adventure story into a bonkers movie that both spoofs a variety of Hollywood tropes and genres, while also paying loving homage to them. And the script -- so wacky and bursting with memorable lines! It was almost impossible to not sit there in the audience and recite the entire thing (when I wasn't also stifling desires to hum along with Danny Elfman's masterful score). I won't go long in this review about what I think the film's underlying themes or messages are (I may have done some of that in my other review), but I just had to share my unbridled giddiness derived from this most recent screening. It may have been my 40th viewing, but it almost felt like the first. I didn't think I could possibly love the film more than I already did, but I was wrong.