Saturday At The Movies: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

If there is any question I dislike being asked (other than “What kind of music do you listen to?”), it’s “What’s your favourite movie?”. Like any self respecting film fanatic, I find it impossible to pick just one. Years ago I was in the middle of a job interview for a job I really, really wanted, and my interviewer was none other than Canadian radio legend, Alan Cross.  At one point during the interview Alan asked the dreaded question: “Just for kicks, what is one of your all-time favourite movies?”. Already nervous, I went into panic mode. A sweat broke out on my forehead and my palms became clammy as my mind reeled, racing through scenes from every movie I’d ever seen in my entire life. How was I supposed to answer this?! Did I try to impress and list off some foreign language art house doc? Maybe I was supposed to say some kind of music related movie – after all, this WAS a job at a radio station.

I did neither. Instead, I blurted out the truth: Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

I remember wishing I could take it back immediately after I said it. I remember the look of amusement that flooded Alan’s face. I remember calling a friend afterwards and saying “well, I screwed that one up.”  For the record, I actually DID get the job and worked there for years, and also: I LOVE PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE  AND I DON’T CARE WHO KNOWS IT.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is probably one of director Tim Burton’s most lovably weird movies. Set in some kind of candy coloured alternaverse (I get the feeling it’s supposed to be Los Angeles but I don’t think they ever really say), it’s the story of Pee-Wee Herman’s dedicated search for his beloved bicycle, stolen from outside of his local bike shop. The things I loved about this movie as a kid are the same elements I love today: the bright colours, Danny Elfman’s psycho circus-like soundtrack, the subtle humour (most of which went completely over my head as a child), and who to this day still does not wish they had Pee-wee’s amazing breakfast machine installed in their kitchen?!

It’s a movie that has made a definite impact on my personality, humour and life.  I ride a red bike to work every day, and sometimes I play the movie’s soundtrack on a tiny portable speaker while I’m riding (true story!). I remember honestly wondering if it was true that there was no basement at the Alamo. For the longest time I thought cutting the “Do not remove under the penalty of law” tags off of mattresses was a punishable crime. Visiting Texas with the sole purpose of loudly singing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” in public remains on my bucket list to this day. I was absolutely terrified of “Large Marge”. My friends and I would quiet right down when we knew that scene was approaching.  Leaning closer to the tv and turning the volume up, we’d all scream at the top of our lungs and bury our faces in our hands when she made her final, horrifying appearance! I may or may not still get a little chill down my spine when that scene comes up.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is a fun little story that people of all ages can get a kick out of. It’s a tale of courage, determination, friendship and it’s got a great soundtrack to boot. This Saturday night, pour yourself a bowl of Mr.T cereal and settle in with Pee-Wee and his bike!

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