By Zachary Flint (Kent, Ohio)
Prior to viewing Pee-wee’s Big Holiday I was very apprehensive about watching it. I thought it would turn out to be a quick cash in on its nostalgic value with little to no effort put forth into it. However what I saw was something quite the opposite. A clever film with great writing that brings back a nostalgic childhood character. Pee-wee`s Big Holiday is a very funny film that thrives on its absurdness. It takes viewers on a weird but mostly enjoyable journey into that vary absurdness.
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday stars Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman, an eccentric man child who wears a suit everywhere he goes. He lives in the city of Fairville where his life is very routine and not much excitement goes on. That is, until Hollywood star Joe Manganiello (True Blood and Magic Mike) shows up at the diner that Pee-wee works in. The two discover that they have a lot in common and become instant friends.
Joe learns of Pee-wee’s problem and wants to help him explore the world and break from his routine. So Joe invites Pee-wee to his birthday party in New York City, sending him on a cross country adventure like no other. Along the way Pee-wee faces all sorts of hijinks. Including three attractive criminals who kidnap him and steal his car and a hillbilly father trying to marry off one of his nine daughters to Pee-wee.
As expected, there are plenty of homages to the 1985 cult film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Which I am sure plenty of fans were dying to see. His home was still filled with goofy contraptions and inventions that all work by chain reaction. The chain reactions were even so detailed and large in size that they were still happening as he drove down the street. Watching the contraptions move and do for the lack of a better term “stuff” is wonderfully entertaining. He also fixes himself a large plate of various breakfast foods and yet takes one bite of French toast and leaves. This scene really had me laughing when it happened in Big Adventure and certainly had me laughing in Big Holiday.
Both Big Adventure and Big Holiday work as good films in the same way. Both take the ridiculously over the top plot and have it work to their advantage. Because of the over the top plot they write over the top characters, phrases, and scenarios that engage the audience and make them want more goofiness. I believe Pee-wee’s Big Adventure does this better than Big Holiday as there are more memorable scenes, characters, and just an overall better plot. However Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is still a good film and deserves praise for its creative goofiness.
While I enjoyed the absurdness of the plot and usual zaniness of the character, I can understand where many people may be alienated from this view. The ridiculous plot may be too over the top for some viewers and if you’re not already aware of this character he might come off as a little too eccentric and weird.
What I particularly admire about Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is the comedic timing of Paul Reubens. He can allow a single joke to linger on for over a minute and yet still have me laughing the whole time through. There is a scene in which Pee-wee stumbles upon an Amish society. As they get to know more about Pee-wee they ask him what he does for fun. So he decides to pull out a balloon, blow it up very large, and pull the end apart so the air slowly squeaks out. All while making odd facial expressions. He releases the air for well over a minute and manages to attract an entire crowd of Amish citizens. As the air releases the audience must watch the balloon ever so slowly deflate, making the joke even more humorous.
This is one of the few movies to allow a joke to run so long and yet it still be funny. I think that is part of the magic with Pee-wee Herman. That his over the top performance doesn`t tend to annoy the audience as much as some characters from films do. The ridiculous, eccentric personality that Paul Reubens gives Pee-wee Herman is the main reason anyone would want to watch these movies.
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is a very worthy successor of Pee-wee`s Big Adventure. While there may not have been as many memorable characters or scenes, I doubt Pee-wee could have pulled off a better return.
Overall, the movie is very funny with it’s over the top humor. It does fall short in some aspects but mostly makes up for it with the clever writing and fun script. As for Pee-wee, he was still just as funny, zany, and eccentric as ever. I hope the creation of Pee-wee’s Big Holiday will spawn future films and continue to further the comedic genius that is Pee-wee Herman.