I wanted to like Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, the recent Netflix sequel to the 1980’s adventures of Pee-Wee Herman. I really did. And I will say a couple of positive things about the movie at the outset.
First off, Paul Reubens (who created and plays Pee-Wee, co-produced the movie, and co-wrote the script) looks astonishingly splendid. I’ve no doubt that a generous amount of whiteface was applied to Reubens in order to resurrect Pee-Wee, but if all it took to make me look 30 years younger was a little extra makeup, I’d be Max Factoring it all over the place.
Second, though this is obviously not a theatrical film, if it was, it would probably get a G rating, and that’s nothing to sniff at. In a movie era where cynicism and nihilism seem the order of the day (Hey, let’s watch two iconic superheroes beat the crap out of each other!), it really is nice to see a movie pull off such a blatantly sunny attitude without a wink of the eye.
With all of that said, I ended up having the same problem with this movie as I had with PW’s initial outing, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985). The new movie’s opening half-hour is a joy to behold, as it explores Pee-Wee’s lyrical small town of Fairville and establishes its modus operandi.
The trouble begins when the plot calls for Pee-Wee to head off on a cross-country adventure, as happened in the 1985 movie. I’m not calling rip-off, but I’m saying that — just as in the first movie — as soon the film leaves its own, wonderfully established wonderland, it gets very random and episodic. There are a few laugh bull’s-eyes along the way, but far too more misses, at least for me.
Anyway, here are the top 5 riffs for #SatMat‘s March 26 Live Tweet of the movie, the first one regarding Pee-Wee’s E.T.-like fantasy that opens the movie:
And, just to show you that #SatMat‘s followers aren’t nearly as cynical as their host…
Wish I could’ve watched with you. I loved it, especially the relationship between Pee-Wee and Joe Manganiello. And the trio of sexploitation-style criminal chicks were fabulous. I just love the campy queerness of it all.
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