As I said last week, I was a little worried that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai would go right over my head like it did when I was a kid, but I forged ahead, spurred on by the enthusiastic response that the film received during a recent screening at the New Beverly. The verdict? Not bad. It didn't go over my head, but it's a film that you have to pay keen attention to or else you can forget about being able to piece together the plot. One missed line of dialogue, and you might find yourself completely in the dark.
The film is overstuffed with ideas (and characters), and key information is sometimes tossed out in a mumbled line from actor Peter Weller, during moments that may not seem particularly important. In a funny way, that's almost part of Buckaroo Banzai's charm. Most films that aspire to feel like an instant cult classic will often beat you over the head with how wacky and offbeat they are. Banzai's off-the-cuff approach is like a sequel to a popular series that you're already familiar with. It assumes you know who Perfect Tommy is or what happened to Banzai's wife or why Banzai has a network of volunteer crimefighters.
The unfortunate thing is that director W.D. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch thought that audiences in 1984 would come along for the ride and jump in to a story that feels like you've already missed the beginning and the end. They didn't. The film was released during the same Summer as Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and was crushed at the box office, earning a measly $6 million.