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Review: Pee Wee's Big Holiday

Pee Wee's Big Holiday
03.19.2016
8 10

PLOT: Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) leaves his beloved hometown in search of adventure as he travels to New York City to attend his best friend Joe Manganiello’s (Joe Manganiello) birthday party.

REVIEW: Who would have thought that with all the big money Netflix has poured into their original film label that their first, undeniable success would be a low-budget reawakening of eighties pop culture icon Pee-wee Herman? Maybe this shouldn’t come as such a huge surprise as right from their launch Netflix has made big bucks on Gen-X’er nostalgia, with the recent Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, Fuller House, the upcoming Gilmore Girls movies and even their first original show, a continuation of Arrested: Development, being ample proof of that.

For those of you not in the know, Pee-wee Herman was a huge pop-culture icon in the eighties, spanning stand-up tours, HBO specials, movies and a wildly successful (and insane) Saturday-morning kids show, Pee Wee’s Playhouse. From the time his first movie, PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE hit theaters in 1985, star Paul Reubens was rarely seen not in person as Pee Wee, and the figure become massively popular amongst kids and adults, the latter of whom appreciated the satiric (but good natured) bent of the character. Reubens eventually got into some legal trouble in the early nineties (which I’ll not go into here) and as a result Pee-wee was no-longer considered kid-friendly although he’s since made a comeback as a character actor in movies like BLOW. Reubens always promised he’d bring the character back and following a successful Broadway show, he’s back!

A kind of spiritual sequel to the first Pee Wee movie, PEE WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY works far better than anyone would have had the right to expect. Despite being sixty-three, Reubens doesn’t look much different as Pee-wee than he did in the eighties (helped in part by some good VFX one assumes). Pee-wee’s persona hasn’t changed much over the years, he still acts like a boy-man, something that’s not unusual in his idyllic home-town Fairville, which seems lifted out of a fifties Norman Rockwell painting. Working as a short-order cook in a diner, Pee-wee’s devastated when his band, “The Renegades” breaks-up, but lucky for him cool Joe Manganiello comes blowing through town on his Harley ready to shake up Pee-wee’s stagnant existence.

Manganiello comes pretty close to stealing the show from Reubens, playing an exaggerated version of himself, as he becomes best pals with Pee-wee in the span of a single afternoon thanks mostly to their shared sweet tooth. Like his MAGIC MIKE co-star Channing Tatum did in the 21 JUMP STREET movies, Manganiello seems game to poke fun at himself, with the character being stunned by the fact that no one in Pee-wee’s town seems to recognize him from True Blood or MAGIC MIKE.  He shows some pretty impeccable comic timing, adopting a big softie persona that meshes really well with Reubens and the climatic scenes showing him agonizing over the fact that Pee-wee might miss his party are pretty funny. It’s a really good performance as he brings the same sincerity to his part that Reubens does, meaning no cool-guy, knowing looks at the camera or anything like that.

The effectiveness of Manganiello’s performance is just one of the many surprising things about PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY. While no one will ever quite be able to recapture the imaginative vibe of Tim Burton’s PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (Danny Elfman’s iconic score is really missed here) new director John Lee does a great job in his own right. A regular contributor to Adult Swim, Lee’s take on the Pee-wee Herman world is like a family-friendly version of John Waters, with clever bits including a switchblade-wielding trio of lady bank robbers in tight Angora sweaters – who look right out of a 1950’s AIP drive-in movie. All of the people Pee-wee meets on his cross-country trip to NYC fight well into the universe, with Alia Shawkat especially good as the most soft-hearted of the bank-robbers. Some of the episodes are better than others, with Pee-wee’s run-in with a farmer’s amorous daughters being funnier than a weird bit with a mountain man, but if we’re honest here PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE had the same issue.

Luckily, Lee keeps things rolling at a tight ninety minutes, a far cry from the indulgent two hour plus running time Netflix allowed Adam Sandler with THE RIDICULOUS SIX. More important that anything is that Reubens still has a great handle the character (with an assist from Netflix’s Love collaborators Paul Rust an producer Judd Apatow). Despite our cynical time, Pee-wee’s aged better than you’d think and the movie is so charming that you can’t help but hope that Reubens gets to do more Pee-wee projects, with him going on-record saying he’s got tons of ideas for places to take the character. What’s most reassuring about PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY is that while so much has changed in the thirty years since PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, Pee Wee’s still the same old Pee Wee we knew and loved as kids. Welcome back Pee Wee. Never leave again!

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:23PM on 03/20/2016
after watching it I thought it was pretty fun. I think the funniest parts were the man he met in the woods, and the farmer. Pretty fun movie. Not as good as the original, but it as fun. I hope if they make a new one they go into the Playland World! That would be awesome!
after watching it I thought it was pretty fun. I think the funniest parts were the man he met in the woods, and the farmer. Pretty fun movie. Not as good as the original, but it as fun. I hope if they make a new one they go into the Playland World! That would be awesome!
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+1
3:33PM on 03/19/2016
I found it pretty entertaining. Kept my attention the entire time. Definitely a solid return for Reubens.
I found it pretty entertaining. Kept my attention the entire time. Definitely a solid return for Reubens.
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2:39PM on 03/19/2016

Paul Reubens is 63? really? He's aged really well!

Color me extremely surprised! I thought for sure this film wasn't gonna be any good, and wasn't going to capture any of the charm of the first film. I thought the trailer wasn't very interesting at all, but I'm glad to see I was wrong. I'll have to check it out!
Color me extremely surprised! I thought for sure this film wasn't gonna be any good, and wasn't going to capture any of the charm of the first film. I thought the trailer wasn't very interesting at all, but I'm glad to see I was wrong. I'll have to check it out!
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2:21PM on 03/19/2016

The Monster

His reaction to "The Monster" is, to me, worth the hour and a half. Quite a few chuckles, but that one had me busting a gut... Welcome back, Pee-Wee.
His reaction to "The Monster" is, to me, worth the hour and a half. Quite a few chuckles, but that one had me busting a gut... Welcome back, Pee-Wee.
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+2
1:25PM on 03/19/2016
"Who would have thought that with all the big money Netflix has poured into their original film label that their first, undeniable success would be..."

Oh, my bad. I thought that "Beasts of No Nation" getting 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, and appearing on over 20 "Best of the Year" lists was an undeniable success.
"Who would have thought that with all the big money Netflix has poured into their original film label that their first, undeniable success would be..."

Oh, my bad. I thought that "Beasts of No Nation" getting 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor, and appearing on over 20 "Best of the Year" lists was an undeniable success.
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2:42PM on 03/19/2016
That's an acquisition - not a movie they produced in-house.
That's an acquisition - not a movie they produced in-house.
3:54PM on 03/19/2016
Technically, the same production company that produced the Anchorman films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Trainwreck etc (produced this film). They had the deal in place before Netflix ever got involved, Netflix only supplied distribution. Likewise Ntflix was only a distributor on The Ridiculous 6, they signed a distribution deal with Sandler and let Happy Madison do their own thing with the film. Heck, even House of Cards isn't actually "made" by Netflix they only distribute the completed
Technically, the same production company that produced the Anchorman films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Trainwreck etc (produced this film). They had the deal in place before Netflix ever got involved, Netflix only supplied distribution. Likewise Ntflix was only a distributor on The Ridiculous 6, they signed a distribution deal with Sandler and let Happy Madison do their own thing with the film. Heck, even House of Cards isn't actually "made" by Netflix they only distribute the completed product and then periodically agree to renew their distribution deal based on how many views the previous season(s) proved to be.
8:29PM on 03/19/2016
Chris Bumbray clearly doesn't know dick about Netflix. Arrested Development was also far from their first original series. Netflix doesn't really "make" any of their original content, they purchase and distribute.
Chris Bumbray clearly doesn't know dick about Netflix. Arrested Development was also far from their first original series. Netflix doesn't really "make" any of their original content, they purchase and distribute.
1:00PM on 03/19/2016
The opening scene instantly made me feel confident they did this right. Just a huge WTF scene. I thought this movie was triple cool.
The opening scene instantly made me feel confident they did this right. Just a huge WTF scene. I thought this movie was triple cool.
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12:48PM on 03/19/2016
One of the things that I enjoyed about this outing over previous movies was that unlike some of his previous movies he seemed to behave like less of a self entitled A-hole in this one (compare with Pee Wees Big Adventure),

That being said.... As I said to my wife, "It wasted an hour and a half of my life, but if one has an hour and a half to wasted THIS is the movie you watch during that time. "
One of the things that I enjoyed about this outing over previous movies was that unlike some of his previous movies he seemed to behave like less of a self entitled A-hole in this one (compare with Pee Wees Big Adventure),

That being said.... As I said to my wife, "It wasted an hour and a half of my life, but if one has an hour and a half to wasted THIS is the movie you watch during that time. "
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12:18PM on 03/19/2016
It was better than I expected
It was better than I expected
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10:47AM on 03/19/2016
It may not have the same wackiness his playhouse had or that big adventure but their hearts were in this movie and it shows and that's what counts, Reubens still got it and he still makes me laugh.
It may not have the same wackiness his playhouse had or that big adventure but their hearts were in this movie and it shows and that's what counts, Reubens still got it and he still makes me laugh.
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