Nobody in my house would take me to see Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Mom liked Pee-Wee, but only knew him from his original HBO special, which I was not allowed to see (It's amazing how innocent that special seems now. Other than a mildly risque gag about mirrored shoes, the whole thing's not nearly as adult as it seemed at the time). My stepdad, being muy macho above all things, found Pee-Wee too effete for his John Wayne tastes. This seemed like a film I was destined to sit out.

I can remember rolling around on the carpet (haven't done that in a while), talking on the kitchen wall phone to my slightly older cousin Matt, who'd seen the film on opening weekend and remembered every single solitary detail. He described Pee-Wee's whacked-out house and tricked-out bike in pain-staking detail, peppering our conversation with choice bits of dialogue ("I remember...the Alamo..."). We'd call them "spoilers" now, but I was begging for them, so he spoiled every bit to my perfectly willing ears -- the fortune teller, the mattress tag-ripping ex-con, Large Marge, and, yes, the Alamo.

I ended up seeing the movie with my mom on VHS upon its release, and, surprisingly, Matt really hadn't spoiled a thing. No mere description could relay how bananas the movie is. The "HA HA! ha-ha-ha" Pee-Wee imitation from my cousin couldn't come close to capturing Pee-Wee Herman as a living, breathing human character as he's portrayed by Paul Reubens in the film. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure was released twenty-five years ago today, and I love it as much now as I did when I was ten. Maybe even more.
categories Cinematical