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Pee-wee’s Big Holiday Review

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Even though his wondrous play house closed it’s doors in 1991, Paul Ruebens' besuited man child, Pee-wee Herman, has enjoyed a resurrection as of late, with Reubens' dusting off the character for a number of live appearances and an incredibly successful stage show (bringing the character back to its roots). It was only a matter of time till another feature length outing beckoned, following in the footsteps of 1986’s cult classic Pee-wee Big Adventure and 1988’s Big Top Pee-wee, and it took Netflix to bring us Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, which takes the tried and trusted formula of his his most successful movie, and charts a new cross country adventure for our hero.


It doesn’t take long for Pee-wee’s Big Holiday to get going, and once that Rube Goldberg machine comes to life, catapulting Pee-wee from his bed to his car, you realise Reubens' hasn’t lost a step when it comes to his beloved creation. Sure, the make-up applied to give the 63 year old actor to capture the character’s ever youthful look does make it look like he is wearing a Pee-wee Herman death mask on more than one occasion, but you’ll soon be smiling from ear to ear once he unloads his schtick to crowd pleasing effect. The story kicks into high gear when Pee-wee meets actor Joe Manganiello, and strikes up an instant friendship with him. Aghast that his new BFF has hardly ever stepped foot outside his idyllic hometown of Fairville, Manganiello invites Pee-wee to his birthday party in New York in five days, under the strict condition that he lives a little and takes his first holiday driving across America.

This is the set-up for the expected hi-jinx, ranging from a run-in with a trio of Russ Meyer inspired bank robbers to teaching an Amish community the joys of making funny noises with balloons, and it’s here where the movie’s main problem lies. The narrative sticks far too closely to Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and while it is a formula that still works, it would have been nice to see Herman thrown into a new type of situation. As it is the plot adds up to a series of loosely connected sketches, some that outstay their welcome more than others, getting by on Reuben’s overwhelming charm and the sheer absurdity of the humour. Pee-wee’s plays it right down the middle for its audience, not talking down to adults but not going over kids heads either. It may be safe, but Ruebens and fellow screenwriter Paul Rust deliver some big laughs, and mix in some new with the old school with the modern day bromance between Pee-wee and Manganiello (no doubt the influence of producer Judd Apatow). The two spark off each other nicely, with the Magic Mike star playing a version of himself who has Pee-wee’s child like soul (only it’s wrapped up in a much more ripped and successful package), and you’re a cold, emotionless robot if you don’t crack a smile at the sight of the two jousting atop a pair of oversized piñatas.

It may feel a bit slap dash and far too familiar at times, but Pee-wee’s Big Holiday is still a great outing for the beloved character, showing what worked over twenty years ago still has a place today. While it will no doubt find some new fans for the character, this will be a fantastic nostalgia hit for those with fond memories of Pee-wee’s heyday.






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The Movie Bit: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday Review
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