After years and years of rumors, Pee-wee Herman is finally back in a feature film. Will “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” live up to the hope of so many people?
Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens) lives a simple life as a line cook in Fairville. When his a-capella group disbands, he is distraught until Joe Manganiello, comes into his diner. The two, inexplicably hit it off and Joe informs Pee Wee about the big world he is missing outside of town (as if Pee Wee shouldn’t remember that from the other movies….). He invites Pee Wee to his birthday party across the country. After some debate, he decides to make the trip, though he is ill-equipped to do so.
From here, we go on a series of adventures that cast Pee Wee’s ability to make that party in time a very real question. Will he be able to attend and, in doing so, grow as a person?
Considering how little room there currently seems to be in the world for a live-action PG comedy that isn’t exclusively targeting young children, this feels like a throwback to this Examiner’s childhood. Pee Wee is really a product of the ’80s and a lot of that magic is attempted to be recreated. In many ways, it is achieved.
Some of the character’s appeal is our nostalgia for him. It would be fascinating to hear how a person who is completely new to Pee Wee would react to seeing a 63 year old man-child (still looking the part, by the way) getting into adventures. It might or might not translate.
The entire plot feels like a flimsy excuse to get Pee-Wee out of town and on the road. To an extent, you can make the same claim about “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”, but this feels like an especially episodic collection of situations our hero finds himself in. Some of them are better than others, but things just seem silly for the sake of being juvenile. A lot of family comedies are actually funny, but that’s almost always because they operate on a level for the parents and the children. This seems exclusively interested in catering to a young audience and an audience that wants to recall being young.
There are just enough moments that can stick with you for the long haul. A running gag about a high-pitched scream, the phrase ‘Geez Louise’, and some robbers that might have something in common with Pee-wee. You need the context for this stuff and yes, it’s all very simple. There are also some returning faces that you might or might not pick out. This almost makes up for the sub-par climax. We get all the way to New York for that?! You’ll see.
“Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” was, in one form or another, promised for a very long time. While it’s amusing and suitably light, it’s hard to say that it completely lives up to the buildup. Still, even if it only marginally meets our impossibly high hopes, if you are already a fan, seeing Pee Wee on screen one more time will put a smile on your face.
RATING 89 Minutes 2016