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Big Top Pee-wee (1988)

Pee-wee Herman is now a small-town farmer with a fiancée, but when a traveling circus comes to town, he finds himself falling for the trapeze artist.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pee-wee Herman (as Pee-wee Herman)
Gina Piccolapupula
Vance the Pig (voice)
Midge Montana
Albert Henderson ...
Mr. Ryan
Jack Murdock ...
David Byrd ...
Mary Jackson ...
Mrs. Dill
Mrs. Haynes
Joe the Blacksmith (as Leo V. Gordon)
Jay Robinson ...


In the sequel to "Pee Wee's Big Adventure", Pee-Wee Herman has had enough with the fame and constant media attention he received after the events of the first movie, so he's now a simple farmer living quietly in a small town. But after a big storm blows their way, a circus ends up at Pee Wee's farm. So he lets the circus stay at his farm for a while. The circus decides to put on a show with one lovable star, Pee-Wee! Also, a love triangle develops between Pee-Wee, his nice fiancée Winnie, who's the local schoolteacher, and mysterious loner Gina, the circus' attractive trapeze artist. The outcome of this subplot is somewhat unexpected. Written by James Preston

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hero. Lover. Legend.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Big Top Pee-wee - La mia vita picchiatella  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$15,122,324 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


For the movie's poster/VHS/DVD artwork; the body of Pee-Wee impersonator Jeff Scott was used; with Paul Reubens' head replacing Jeff's. See more »


When PeeWee and Winnie are eating lunch, some of Winnie's egg salad sandwich falls on PeeWee's face and jacket. He wipes his face on her dress, but in the next shot it's not on her dress or his jacket. See more »


Pee-wee: [milks cow]
[tastes milk]
Pee-wee: Mmm, chocolatey!
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the credits, a short cartoon plays featuring snacks singing about getting refreshments at the theater lobby. See more »


Follows Pee-wee's Playhouse (1986) See more »


Written by Gioachino Rossini (uncredited)
Performed by Paul Reubens (as Pee-Wee Herman)
See more »

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User Reviews

Unique and bizarre experience
22 October 2013 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

This is a very difficult movie to appreciate. Or it may be a very simple movie to appreciate, depending on who you are.

Have a look at the following movies, and if you see at least 1 that you really like from EACH category, then you'll probably enjoy "Big Top Pee-Wee".

CATEGORY A ----------------------------

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Edward Scissorhands

The Fall


CATEGORY B ----------------------------

Free Willy


Anything by Walt Disney

The Muppet Movie

Category A movies are fairy tales for adults. Category B movies are straightforward kid's movies. In order to appreciate "Big Top Pee-wee" you have to be ready for either. You have to expect some jokes & gags that only adults will recognize (mildly sexual, cynical or taboo: such as the cranky old lady's hilarious reference to bulimia), but overall the film takes the format of a kid's movie, with lots of cute animals, predictable slapstick and a cheerful approach, right down to the cheezy sing-song finale.

I think it's the latter--the category B "kid" content--that threw off a lot of fans. The original "Pee-wee" was an adult film packaged in a kid's presentation. But this is the opposite: a kid's film in adult clothing.

As such, the gags aren't as subtle & witty as adult comedies usually are. Like a Saturday morning kids show, "Big Top Pee-wee" comes on strong with exaggerated and hyper-enthusiastic dialogue, overt sight gags & corny action. This may turn off a lot of adults expecting the more biting, tongue-in-cheek comedy of the original Pee-wee.

All the same, there are some classic comedic moments that adults & kids alike will enjoy. The whole "I just wanted a cheese sandwich!" scene had me rolling. I also liked the 1st picnic with Winnie which could easily have been a deleted scene in the original Pee-wee. The creepy townsfolk in general, contrasted against Pee-wee's oblivious optimism, provided great entertainment. But be forewarned, these acidic gags are sparsely presented. Most of the film is straightforward silliness, suitable for kids & young minds.

Being a die-hard fan of the original film, and being a fan of adult fairy tales in general, I have a love-hate relationship with this movie and that's why I can't rate it. But I've seen it 4 times if that's any indication of how compelling it is. My gut says I shouldn't recommend it to everyone, but all the same, there will be a few of you out there who will really enjoy this flick. If you're a kid at heart, don't hesitate.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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