C'mon Hollywood: Where in the hell is the new Pee-Wee Herman movie?
*Note: The secret word for this column is: “allegedly.” You know what to do.
Like many of you, I grew up on Saturday morning cartoons when they were still awesome. The topper to those cartoon mornings was seeing the grey-suited manchild in a red bowtie and shiny shoes known as Pee-Wee Herman bring the most absurd laughter into my house with Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. It was imaginative, crazy, hilarious, and infectious. Then, in 1985, I saw Tim Burton’s freshman outing with Mr. Herman in PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, which has forever solidified quotes into my brain as if I were programmed like a robot working for Skynet.
I can remember popping in the VHS tape in our top-loading VCR that weighed at least 65 pounds and watching it over and over again (along with THE KARATE KID, of course). The movie had spirit and imagination unlike any I’d seen up to that point in my life. It was a showcase for both Burton and Pee-Wee, played brilliantly throughout his life by actor/comedian Paul Reubens serving as a launching pad for both their careers. Burton would go on to direct a bevy of gems (and a few lumps of coal), while Reubens would follow up with 1986’s FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR as the alien space ship voice, and then with 1988’s BIG TOP PEE-WEE, which wasn’t exactly the same caliber as his prior adventure, but still a fun jaunt.
Reubens was still running his Saturday morning show, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse well into its fifth season at the time. However, as fate would have it, scandal struck the comedian when he was *allegedly caught masturbating in an adult movie theater, which led to his arrest (and infamous mugshot). The fallout after this incident, which seemingly trumped the capture of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the news (no, seriously) was a career killer for Reubens, who went into seclusion for about a year, before stepping onstage at the MTV Movie Awards in 1991, to see, ultimately, if he had a chance of saving Pee-Wee. This is what happened:
So, obviously people loved Pee-Wee, regardless of him *allegedly being caught spanking his puppet in a XXX theater. I mean, shit, is it the right thing to do that there? I don’t know, if I go to a pool I swim, if I go to a restaurant I eat, so what the hell do I know? Either way, the whole incident was struck from Reuben’s record (but obviously not from Hollywood’s memory) and even a second incident where his home was falsely raided under a child porn tip, which again was expunged, served as another nail in the coffin for Pee-Wee.
And, really, with that kind of shit going on, what can you do? Pee-Wee was chained, much like that crazy clown he chains his bike to in PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE. However, Reuben trickled in here and there, showing up in Burton’s BATMAN RETURNS as Penguin’s father and in a great turn as a villainous vampire in the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER movie. After that, it was a lot of voice work and a some stints on various TV shows like Murphy Brown, Ally McBeal, and Pushing Daisies, and a solid role as a drug dealer in the Johnny Depp starrer BLOW. All of it seemed like a means to reestablishing a reputation, which took decades to do, thanks largely to a vicious media circus that tore the actor down every chance it could. Until, in 2009 – 2011, Reubens found his way back to his roots, bringing Pee-Wee’s Playhouse back to the stage where it began with a number of shows in Los Angeles and a Broadway special that eventually aired on HBO. Pee-Wee had finally returned from the abyss.
It was during one of these shows that writer/director Judd Apatow contacted Reubens about continuing the adventures of Mr. Herman on the big screen. It was one hell of an opening for someone who has seemingly had to claw his way back to the limelight. Yet, this was nearly three years ago and despite a few updates here and there about the movie progressing forward, we’ve heard nothing official. The reported idea is that the new Pee-Wee film would be another road movie, much like his first film, which suits me just fine, but the fact that it’s taken this long to get it off the ground is a little bothersome, especially since Pee-Wee is 61 f*cking years old! Time isn’t on anyone’s side here.
Reubens has more than made up for his supposed sins (and there are plenty of stars who have been caught doing much worse) and deserves the opportunity to bring Pee-Wee back to the big screen where he can shine again. You don’t get a lot of second chances in life, let alone in Hollywood (unless you’re M. Night Shyamalan), so for the love of all that’s good, get this movie behind the camera already! I’ve never met a single person who hated Pee-Wee after his “transgressions” and they’ve all wondered aloud the same question, “When will there be another Pee-Wee movie?”
Hollywood, the ball is in your court. How much longer are you going to hold down the talents of the one-and-only Pee-Wee Herman? You’re shit stinks just as much as everyone else’s (I know, because I had the misfortune of watching ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH over the weekend). It’s time to cut the scarlet letter off of Pee-Wee’s jacket and get him “Tequila” dancin’ again.
*Allegedly, you can commence with your masturbation references now...
|Extra Tidbit:||Who do you think would be a good fit to direct a new Pee-Wee movie? Personally, I think Wes Anderson would be the perfect fit, even if it's a longshot.|