by William Pennington
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure as a road trip movie? It took me awhile to realize just how accurate this claim is.
As one who enjoyed his show as a kid, seeing Pee Wee chase his bike around the country inspired many of us in grade school to do the “Pee Wee dance.” In fact, the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, AZ had a written rule forcing all staff to dance to this song, Pee Wee Herman style, every time it came on the jukebox. Sometimes, mean teenagers with a bunch of quarters would make the dishwashers dance all night.
This movie has so many forgotten cultural references that we may forget how big Pee Wee was at the time of its release. His fall from grace now seems like one big human error that any of us could make. Right? Uh…right?
As a lifelong fan of truckers and trucker movies, seeing truckers portrayed in a Pee Wee movie absolutely made my childhood. While I had yet to discover Movin’ On, Over the Top, or Smokey and the Bandit, I did have the ending of Big Trouble in Little China and this scene from from Big Adventure to keep me awake at night. Large Marge is so cult iconic that the “Trucker Hall of Fame” episode of Regular Show included a statue of a “Huge Marge” in it’s collection.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure definitely is a road trip movie, but it’s also so may other things. It’s about one man’s unhealthy love for a bicycle and what happens when you steal a trucker’s wife or knock over two dozen motorcycles outside a rough roadside bar in the middle of nowhere. But hopefully it will just inspire you to lust after the road…if any of the other movies in this section don’t do the trick.
Can you remember the last road trip you took? If not, this film may inspire the hell out of you to explore your city/state/country a little bit more. As we learn, the most fun we can have is sometimes spent getting lost with a friend. Or, as a friend from high school once told me, “the only people who go anywhere interesting are the people that get lost.” (It’s actually a Thoreau quote that she stole.)
The experiences one has on a road trip revolve around the people that one travels with. In Y Tu Mama Tambien, two friends (you may recognize one actor from The Motorcycle Diaries, and the other from Milk and/or Elysium) get closer than comfortable. While this happens in real life, it’s rarely written about, let alone shown this beautifully in a movie. This relationship IS the movie.
You may know the director, Alfonso Cuaron, from Gravity or Children of Men. Most of his work has been rightfully acclaimed, and this one will not disappoint.
I can’t tell you that this is a happy movie. I can’t tell you this movie is safe for kids. I can’t even guarantee that you’ll love it. But what I can tell you is that this is a film that can be described as “beyond interesting,” for its cinematic effects and well-written story. To me, the story is the most important part of any film.
Plus…it has a really great fart joke, one that I still use to this day, on my many road trips that I take—inspired by this film.
William Pennington was born and has wondered who he is ever since. Writing has helped him understand life a little, and volunteering at Scarecrow fulfills his requirements of the court.