big top pee weeParamount
1988
PG

“I call it…the hot dog tree, because…it’s a hot dog tree.”

 

The sequel to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure has a different distributor studio (Paramount), a different director (Randal Kleiser), and a different dynamic than the first movie. As a matter of fact, “sequel” seems the wrong word to use. Perhaps “follow-up”, or “second movie starring Pee Wee Herman” would make better sense. After all, Big Top Pee Wee is an all together different, original story that references nothing of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. So let’s go with that.

When Big Top Pee Wee was first released, I didn’t get the chance to catch it on the big screen at first. I did manage to catch it as a weekend matinee summer special showing during the summer of 1989, but I missed the last 10 minutes or so, because whoever set the projector timer was a bit short on the length. Soon thereafter, though, we just bought the VHS copy to own, so that was remedied. Anyway…

After a Hard Day’s Night-inspired dream sequence, we meet Pee Wee Herman, farmer and agricultural science genius, constantly coming up with innovative and rather odd ways to revolutionize the science of farming. He’s the eccentric genius who lives on a farm with his talking pig outside of a rural community full of uptight old people who disdains his audacious attempts at making things fun. He’s in a relationship with the town’s schoolteacher, one that doesn’t exactly melt the chrome off of your bumper, if you catch my drift, here. Still, he carries on, making the most of the rut he’s dealt…until one day, the circus literally blows into town after a bad storm. The circus folk tries to make the best out of a bad situation, but after being kicked out of the town for daring to bring their fun show in, they shack up at Pee-Wee’s farm to regroup. Meanwhile, Pee Wee falls smitten for the trapeze artist, which doesn’t sit well with his fiance’, as the townsfolk continue to be stuck-up jerks to the circus people. Then Pee Wee comes up with a way to bring back the childlike exuberance and sense of wonder — by turning them all back into children. That way, the circus can finally perform and everyone ends up happy. The end.

Overall, Big Top Pee Wee still retains the patented whimsical surreal and absurdist humor, and the story is pretty good, with everyone working well and bringing things together. However, I have to admit that the absence of Tim Burton’s influence is noticeable. However, that certainly hasn’t kept this from being on my frequently watched collection, along with Pee Wee’s first movie. I still throw Big Top Pee Wee on from time to time, and get lost in the whimsy and the memories of a different time.

Great, now I’m sounding like the sentimental middle-age weirdo I am.

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