Behind-the-scenes On 'Big Adventure'
July 26, 2015 12:41 PM   Subscribe

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, he's just posted some never-before-seen photos from the set of that classic comedy. Time to hit play on the movie, or perhaps enjoy a very rare promotional song by Pee-Wee and his friend Allee Willis! Of course, for the more literary inclined, you could always pick up an interesting book on the subject. Viva Pee-Wee!
posted by ktoad (49 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
I was just a kid the week 'Big Adventure' hit theaters for the first time in August 1985. It was a scorching hot day so mom and I wanted to see a matinee and soak up the air-conditioning. We settled on Sesame Street's new movie 'Follow That Bird' but when we got to the theater I was dumbstruck by the Pee-Wee poster and dragged her to that instead. We walked out a couple hours later with sore guts from laughing so hard, and dragged my dad to it that same night. All these years later, it still astounds me how original and creative that movie is.
posted by ktoad at 12:46 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Last summer I go to see this as part of the retro drive in that goes on down here. It stands up remarkably well and is still a blast.
posted by absalom at 12:51 PM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]




I'M TRYING TO USE THE PHONE!
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2015 [19 favorites]


Oh, wow. This is one of those "Welp, gettin' old" posts.

The first time my brother and I saw it, we saw it on a VCR my parents had rented. Yes, kids, before a lot of people owned them, you could rent them.

That being the case, rewinding something on TV was a total novelty for us. Consequently, we couldn't get enough of the point in the "Large Marge" scene where she says "...it looked like THIS!"

We probably rewound and rewatched that bit a dozen times.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:32 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


... some never-before-seen photos from the set of that classic comedy.

Why don't you take a picture, it'll last longer!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:38 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


My nieces adored this movie, to the point where I went from "meh" to a fan, because something kicks in when you watch something 100 times, I guess. But also, the jokes and gags are good ones and reward repeated viewing. I still enjoy watching for the screwup in the chaining-up-the-bike sequence, where you can see the chain being fed in at the bottom left of the screen.

My kid refuses to watch it, however. The allure of Pee Wee escapes him entirely.
posted by emjaybee at 1:58 PM on July 26, 2015


My kid refuses to watch it, however. The allure of Pee Wee escapes him entirely.
I PITY THE FOOL WHO DON'T EAT MY CEREAL.

I first saw this on VHS on a movie day that we got as a reward in elementary school, about a year or two after it was originally released. From what I remember, most of my friends hadn't seen it until then either. Imagine if you will a whole classroom of third/fourth-graders all being exposed to the spooky disturbingness of Large Marge or the evil clown-doctor scene, or the brilliance of the breakfast machine or the climactic movie studio chase, all at the same time, and you have an idea of how deep an impact this made on '80s kids.

I must have watched it hundreds of times since, with a home-taped copy from a late '80s CBS airing. I probably watch my DVD copy at least once a year; Every now and then I watch it with the music-only audio track, which not only spotlights Danny Elfman's score but also reveals Paul Reubens as an incredible silent comedian in a league with Keaton and Chaplin. For my money, Tim Burton has never made a better movie than this one.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:42 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


LISTEN TO REASON
posted by avocet at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can just imagine what I did when I visited the Alamo...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:47 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


One of the best movie lines ever, uttered by Pee Wee inside the giant dinosaur: "everyone has a 'big but'....Let's talk about YOUR Big But...."
posted by mermayd at 2:58 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


I also did not realize that Paris, TX was a place until several years ago
posted by avocet at 3:02 PM on July 26, 2015


The Alamo really does have a cellar.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:10 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Large Marge sent me.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


THE STARS AT NIGHT ARE BIG AND BRIGHT
posted by Aznable at 3:53 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


*clap*clap*clap*clap*
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:58 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Seriously, my favorite movie ever.

WHY? WHAT'S THE SIGNIFICANCE? I DON'T KNOW!!!
posted by wats at 4:28 PM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


it's just jam-packed. Two of my favorites:

Simone: Do you have any dreams?
Pee-wee: Yeah, I'm all alone. I'm rolling a big doughnut and this snake wearing a vest...

Tour Guide: Yes, there are thousands and thousands of uses for corn, all of which I will tell you about right now!
posted by infinitewindow at 4:49 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


People always look at me weird when I say that PWBA is my favorite Tim Burton movie. The breakfast scene with the Rube Goldberg setup alone is worth the price of admission. I can't believe it's thirty years old already.

and if we're going on a quote fest:

"Is this something you can share with the rest of us Amazing Larry?"
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:50 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]



That being the case, rewinding something on TV was a total novelty for us. Consequently, we couldn't get enough of the point in the "Large Marge" scene where she says "...it looked like THIS!"

We probably rewound and rewatched that bit a dozen times.


I got my parents to rent this for me when it came out on VHS and I remember rewinding the Large Marge scene over and over the first time I saw the movie. It was just so startling and ridiculous.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:51 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The movie's theme is my ring tone for when someone calls me from the house.
posted by Mchelly at 4:58 PM on July 26, 2015


Also, I just wanna say that I miss the shit out of Pee Wee's Playhouse. Theme by the Residents, anthropomorphic furniture, the Word of the Day, the King of Cartoons... just damn. Reubens really knew how to put together a show. Maybe a bit too trippy for little kids, but for my friends and I in high school it was hilarious and fascinating.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:04 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That Large Marge scene made me unable to sleep in the dark when I was 6. And I had already seen The Shining.
posted by JLovebomb at 5:36 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Firstly...

Pee-wee: There's a lotta things about me you don't know anything about, Dottie. Things you wouldn't understand. Things you couldn't understand. Things you shouldn't understand.

Dottie: I don't understand.

Also...

The movie-within-a-movie in this movie is one of the best examples of the device in cinema comedy history.

Finally...

There are several Tim Burton movies that have much to admire, but I would argue that PWBA is the least flawed. It's tight, because it had to be -- everything that happens on screen serves or heightens the movie's conceits. Burton had a lot to prove, and he somehow managed to do it with a property that would've been the kiss of death to a lot of directors.

I wish Burton was that hungry still.
posted by Construction Concern at 6:02 PM on July 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


I must've been about 8 when I first heard of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. My best friend called me on the phone (as kids did in those days) and he was super-hyped about this hilarious movie he'd just seen where a grown man named Pee-Wee that's a little boy dances on a bar to Tequila: "he wears these big shoes and first he points at his wiener then he points at his butt, over and over."

Not surprisingly, that description didn't catch my interest but fortunately I soon ended up with a VHS copy that I literally watched every single morning for months.
posted by glhaynes at 6:17 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Naming the biker gang from the "Tequila" bar scene "Satan's Helpers" was a lovely touch.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:29 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only movie that has made me laugh so hard I could not stop; when he is with the escaped convict and he is in disguise as the convict's wife, getting past the cop. I was about ten and there was just something about the whole scene, I couldn't even explain why it was that hilarious, but I laughed for at least an hour.
posted by jenjenc at 6:38 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I didn't know Phil Hartman was one of the writers, but it makes a lot of sense. Quality humor, start to finish.
posted by Fig at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2015


I first saw this when I was 7 or 8 years old. I totally thought you'd get in huge trouble for cutting the tag off of a mattress.
posted by MjrMjr at 7:19 PM on July 26, 2015


Time to hit play on the movie, or perhaps enjoy a very rare promotional song by Pee-Wee and his friend Allee Willis!

Allee Willis is probably doing all right with respect to royalties these days, because she wrote "I'll Be There for You," the Friends theme song.
posted by jonp72 at 7:28 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


OKAY, SPECK
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:42 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Theme by the Residents

(pushes up glasses) Actually, the Pee-Wee's Playhouse Theme was composed/performed by Mark Mothersbaugh with an uncredited Cyndi Lauper on vocals. The Residents provided music for a handful of episodes, but the opening and closing theme are pure Mothersbaugh.

/peeweedantry
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:09 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


Paging Mr Herman, paging Mr Herman, you have a telephone call at the front desk.
posted by peeedro at 8:13 PM on July 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


The exchange about the mattress tag might be my favorite. It's so absurd, but they play it so straight. And when the joke ends with them muttering "the law," it actually leads straight to the next scene where they encounter the police.

There's some interesting stuff on the movie's writing process in the Hartman biography that came out a year or two ago. There was apparently quite a bit of conflict there.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:18 PM on July 26, 2015


Every once in a while while describing a technical problem at work, it's really hard NOT to start in with, "It's like trying to unravel a cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting a-and knitting a-and KNITTING AAAND KNITTING..." but I don't think anybody would get the reference.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


"It's like trying to unravel a cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting a-and knitting a-and KNITTING AAAND KNITTING..."

I somehow missed out on Pee Wee stuff as a kid, so I didn't see this movie until I was an adult working at a video store. My boss was obsessed with it and would quote it all the time, especially that line. When he finally convinced me to watch it... well, I don't have a favorite movie, but I'd rather watch this than almost anything else. I think the ending is one of the best of any movie ever, period. It is just such a great movie.

Also, on the quote train:

Cowboy #1: What's your name?
Pee-wee: I can't remember.
Cowboy #2: Where are you from?
Pee-wee: I can't remember.
Cowboy #1: Can you remember anything?
Pee-wee: I remember... the Alamo.
[Texans cheer]
posted by teponaztli at 8:50 PM on July 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


It's on Netflix right now. You guys talked me into rewatching it!

They'll also let you add "Pee Wee's Big Holiday" to your watch list right now so it shows up the second it's available!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:57 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


...aaaaaaaand, as usual when watching this movie, I'm made uncomfortably aware how many of my mid-century aesthetic preferences are probably rooted in childhood enjoyment of Pee-wee's Playhouse.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:17 PM on July 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Alamo scene basically sums up all my anxiety with human interactions, the way everyone just stops and laughs at him makes my skin crawl to this day. That's it, I am hiding under my desk and not talking to another human being until tomorrow.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:24 PM on July 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


THE STARS AT NIGHT ARE BIG AND BRIGHT
posted by Aznable at 7:53 AM on July 27 [3 favorites +] [!] [quote]

*clap*clap*clap*clap*
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:58 AM on July 27 [6 favorites +] [!] [quote]
I'm from Texas. The other day I went camping at a big, crowded campsite (not in Texas). My family got there first, and some friends were going to be showing up sometime later. We'd finished pitching our tent and were playing around, when I hear someone shout out "THE STARS AT NIGHT ARE BIG AND BRIGHT!!" and completely reflexively I clapped four times and shouted back "DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!!" It was only after I turned around that I realized it was my friend; for all I knew it was some random camper shouting at someone else. But that's how ingrained that movie made that reflex.
posted by Bugbread at 10:10 PM on July 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well Bugbread, that reflex is so powerful the world around that The BBC restricted the song's play during the war:
Some records were barred from being spun at certain times - 'Deep in the Heart of Texas' could not be played during the Second World War on programmes that might be heard by factory workers, who might neglect their lathes to join in the song's clapping routine.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:40 AM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I frequently got in trouble in French class because any time someone used "merci beaucoup" in a dialogue I couldn't resist the urge to respond with "MERCI BLAH BLAH!"
posted by Spatch at 1:32 AM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have never been in a theater that laughed as hard and as genuinely as the 9pm screening of PWBA I was lucky enough to see 30 (!) years ago. I don't think a word of dialogue was heard for minutes after the "Large Marge" scene.

I think second place has to go to Porky's, but that may (must?) be strongly correlated to being a teenager at the time. I still laugh out loud thinking about the "sketch artist" scene, though.
posted by maxwelton at 4:05 AM on July 27, 2015


Pee Wee's Big Adventure was very much a movie of its time, so to watch it now it's a bit dated. I love love loved this movie as a kid, though, and wore out at least one VHS tape after recording it off HBO.

As for these pics...Tim Burton looks so young! Like a high school kid.
posted by zardoz at 5:26 AM on July 27, 2015


Eh, my kids still love it. They may not get the Mr. T reference, but I think it's pretty timeless.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:47 AM on July 27, 2015


I still love this movie. It is the story of everyman's search for meaning in an uncaring universe.
posted by winna at 9:44 AM on July 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is the story of everyman's search for meaning MY BIKE in an uncaring universe.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


At work I refer to obnoxious tasks that nobody wants to do as "the snakes in the pet store".
posted by hoosierdaddypgh at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


God I have seen this movie like 1000 times. To add to the quote train:

"I think I'll start a paper route right now!"
"Jimmy crack corn and III DON'T CAAAAARE"
posted by town of cats at 6:28 PM on July 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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