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Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Family  |  9 August 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 39,432 users   Metascore: 47/100
Reviews: 185 user | 46 critic | 13 from Metacritic.com

When eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pee-wee Herman (as Pee-wee Herman)
Irving Hellman ...
Monte Landis ...
Damon Martin ...
Chip (as Damon Landis)
Gregory Brown ...
Mark Everett ...
Chuck (as Daryl Roach)
Bill Cable ...
Policeman #1
Policeman #2


The cartoonish and childish character Pee Wee Herman goes on a big adventure for the first time ever when his beloved shiny new bicycle is stolen by his nemesis Francis Buxton, a fellow man-child and neighborhood rich "kid." And he sets off on an obsessive cross-country journey, determined to recover it. Pee-wee's awkward and childish attempts to be cool and mature. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The story of a rebel and his bike. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

9 August 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Grande Aventura de Pee Wee  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$40,900,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild:  as "PW" and "Dottie" in the film-within-a-film that purports to be based on Pee Wee's experience. As a gag, Brolin's character is only called PW Herman because it would make little sense to have a big strong man called Pee Wee. See more »


When Francis goes to open the bathroom door, he is wearing a striped towel around his waist, however, in the very next shot, When his Butler falls in the tub, he is seen holding the towel in his hand. See more »


[first lines]
Pee-wee: Look out, Mister Potato Head!
See more »


References Lady and the Tramp (1955) See more »


Written by Dee Snider
Performed by Twisted Sister
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

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User Reviews

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985)
20 January 2004 | by (Waynesville, OH) – See all my reviews

Pee-wee's Big Adventure (the first full-length feature by acclaimed film-maker Tim Burton) is the kind of movie you'd have to force yourself NOT to like. Adapted from Paul Reubens' hit children's (and adult's) television show, it is a delightful fantasy that is bound to entertain. The tagline for the film describes it as "the story of a rebel and his bike," and that really about sums up the entire movie, but there's something about Pee-wee that taps into everyone's inner child and captures the care-freeness of youth, making his adventures irresistible and utterly captivating ... because -- afterall -- Pee-wee is still the coolest man-child out there (take THAT, Michael Jackson!). The plot (which is really rather insignificant) revolves around Pee-wee's prized bike, which is tragically stolen while he's shopping for novelty toys at the mall (who DOESN'T wish they had this man's life?). After deciding that the police couldn't possibly help him in his endeavors, he "takes the law into his own hands" and sets out on a quest to find his bicycle -- which a phony fortune-teller has told him is in the basement of the Alamo. The film can be enjoyed on a number of levels: while there is always the sheer fun and hilarity of Reubens comic genius, there is another genius at work here -- Burton's. One of the many pleasures of watching a Burton movie is that you can tell you're watching a movie by a man who's watched a lot of movies, and each feature of his is drenched with homages, parodies, and inside jokes: Pee-wee's Big Adventure features references to beach blanket movies, horror movies, Godzilla movies, Tarzan movies, and even The Wizard of Oz. The other great thing about Burton is that he always adds a dark edge to his work, regardless of how flippant the work may be: when Pee-wee's bike is stolen, it's a moment of almost Hitchcockian intensity. Burton's playful use of shadows and cartoonish set pieces conveys a sense of simultaneous lightheartedness and malice; his films accomplish that rare feat of creating a world entirely of their own. But even if all of this film-geek babble means absolutely nothing to you, you can still have fun on this adventure, because Pee-wee is one of the most likable characters in the history of entertainment: anyone who claims to find Reubens obnoxious or unfunny is either lying to you or has no sense of humor. The screenplay for Pee-wee's Big Adventure was written by Reubens and Saturday Night Live alumni Phil Hartman, and its combination of childish humor ("I know you are, but what am I?") and unexpected insight is absolutely charming. With top-notch direction and full-blown hilarity (the "Tequila" scene is one for the time capsule), it is one of the most purely enjoyable films ever made; it's that rare cult movie that's just as good as its fans would tell you it is. So go on: give into your temptation and watch it. As Pee-wee himself would say, "I triple-dog-dare ya" not to like it.

Grade: B

25 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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