Child's Play

Pee Wee's Big Adventure Directed by Tim Burton At the Harvard Square Theater

PEE WEE HERMAN'S humor is of a brand all its own. And nowhere is this more evident than in his first feature film. Pee Wee's Big Adventure. While this means bad things for those unfamiliar with the young comic's style, this means good news for Pee Wee fans across the country.

This movie is classic Pee Wee. Maybe too much at times, but certainly some of his best stuff. Pee Wee's house is not to be believed, with its collection of gadgets that only an overgrown lid could love.

If you don't know Pee Wee, you may think the movie is mere silliness. But then that's what Pee Wee's humor is all about: childishness. Paul Reubens is not an actor playing Pee Wee, he is Pee Wec. (A few months ago, Reubens dropped his real name and "became" Pee Wee Herman, refusing to answer to his former off stage name.)

The plot is sheer silliness as well. It centers around Pee Wee's relentless search for his stolen bicycle. It must be understood that this is not just any bicycle, but the ultimate kid's bicycle (at least in Pee Wee's mind), complete with lion's head on the handlebars, spiral wheels, streamers trailing from the handgrips, and the world's loudest horn.

Finding a replacement is simply out of the question for Pee Wee. This bike is to important that Pee Wee keeps it hidden away in a secret compartment of his backyard; and when he takes it out, he locks it up with enough chain to secure the Statue of Liberty.


Pee Wee's search for the bike takes him all the way to the Alamo, in Texas (where a phony gypsy tells him he could find the two wheeler.)

Along the way, he meets up with an escaped convict (who's still got the cuffs on his hands,) a Lexas waitress who wishes she could go to France, and her monstrous husband, who thinks the two of them have been fooling around.

He also clashes with a barroom full of vicious bikers called Satan's Helpers, all of whom he tells to be quiet while he tries to make a phone call. They do not, however, kill him in 18 different ways, as they want to do at first. Pee Wee's ingenuity not only allows him to save his own neck, but to befriend the roadies as well.

THE MOVIE IS LITTERED with more bicycle-theme humor, as well as Pee Wee's inimitable laughs, chuckles and snickers. His usual childishness flows easily through the film as well, as witnessed in one scene in which he gets into a "I know you are, but what am I" duel with another overgrown kid from the neighborhood.

The only disappointment is that Pee Wee the actor--like Pee Wee the character--is in his own words "a loner, a rebel," and plays off no one. The audience doesn't care what happens to any of the other characters. While this is pure Pee Wee, it is only Pee Wee. It's too bad that he couldn't branch off into something more original here.

That shouldn't stop any fans of Pee Wee, or of silly humor, from seeing this movie. For while Pee Wee's days as a featured actor will probably be limited in the future by audiences' patience for seeing his routine over and over again, they are still fresh and funny in this flick. Last one to see it is a rotten egg.