Podcast 126: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

The 3 Guys Podcast

Recorded on 8/9/2023

To honor the passing of Paul Reubens, we review Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure 38 years after it’s release. Together we dissect every hilarious moment & share behind-the-scenes trivia as we relive the magic of this timeless classic about a rebel and his bike. WARNING: There will be Spoilers.

The 3 Guys Rating

3.7/5

Notes From The Show

  • Quick Synopsis

  • Released: August 9, 1985

    Directed By:
    Tim Burton

    Screenplay By:
    Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens and Michael Varhol

    Based on:
    “The Pee-wee Herman Show”, a stage performance at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood

    Stars:
    Paul Reubens, E.G. Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen and a bunch of other actors.

    Plot: When eccentric man-child Pee-wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.

    Taglines:  The story of a rebel and his bike.

    How did this movie do?
    Budget: $7 Million
    Box Office:
    $41 Million

  • Casting

    • Corey Feldman was originally offered the role of Francis Buxton but turned the role down due to scheduling conflicts with The Goonies (1985). Paul Reubens, as Pee-wee Herman, did visit the “Goonies” set once as both films were shot on the same lot.

    • This film is the screen debut of Darla the dog. Although she is uncredited as one of the pets escaping from the pet store fire, she has been featured in numerous films, including the role of Queenie in The ‘Burbs (1989), Precious in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Ratty Poodle in Batman Returns (1992).

    • Phil Hartman is the voice of the rodeo announcer.

    • Lori Loughlin, Laura Dern, Phoebe Cates, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh were all considered for the role of Dottie.
  • Trivia

    • Paul Reubens said that he, Phil Hartman, and Michael Varhol had never written a screenplay prior to this film. They purchased a book by Syd Field on how to write screenplays and did exactly what the book said. As a result, this movie is sometimes used in screenwriting classes because it fits the screenwriting paradigm perfectly – the film is 90 minutes long and the script is 90 pages long. The first act ends at Page 30 / 30-minute mark, the second act ends at Page 60 / 60-minute mark, etc.

    • Tim Burton and Paul Reubens asked Danny Elfman as composer because Reubens was a big fan of Oingo Boingo, of which Elfman was lead singer and songwriter, and Burton agreed after attending some concerts. Elfman was originally apprehensive, having no formal music training, and declined the offer, but his manager told him to tell Burton that himself. Elfman gave Burton a ring, but at the last moment, he changed his mind and decided to accept the job. He was assisted by Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek as orchestrator. Elfman later said that hearing his music performed by an orchestra for the first time was one of the most thrilling experiences of his life.

    • Approximately 10 to 12 bicycles were built for the movie by the Pedal Pusher Bike Shop in Newport Beach CA; a shop that specialized in vintage and classic bicycles and parts. They were offered $10,000 and no screen credit or screen credit only. The shop chose the money. The bike shop had an autographed 8×10 glossy of Paul Reubens that said “To Mike at Pedal Pusher: ‘Arrrrgggg!’ From Pee-wee Herman.”

    • This was Tim Burton’s directorial feature debut. He had previously directed some short films.

    • Many of the movie’s props came from the personal belongings of Paul Reubens.

    • The script is a nod to the Italian classic Bicycle Thieves (1948) in that the main characters prized bicycle is stolen, and the police don’t take the crime seriously, nor do his friends offer much help and as a last resort consults a dubious fortune teller.

    • When Pee-wee is hitchhiking to the Alamo, the Texas-shaped sign he holds up has a big star indicating his destination. The star isn’t over San Antonio, home of the real-life Alamo; it’s over Bracketville, home of the Alamo facade used in many western and period movies.

    • Jan Hooks improvised the dialogue for her scenes as the Alamo tour guide.

    • When Pee-wee is at the pet shop, he frees a chimpanzee first then enlists his help (he even tells the chimp, “you can help me!”). Pee-wee is also afraid of the snakes and is very reluctant to save them, which he does but he screams then passes out after doing so. In reality, Tim Burton has a phobia of chimpanzees.

    • The line why don’t you take a picture and it will last longer is said in all 3 pee wee Herman films

    • Pee-Wee plays a hotel desk clerk as his debut acting role in the movie within the movie. Paul Reubens previously played a similar role as a hotel desk clerk in Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980), one of Reubens’ first film roles.

    • CAMEO: John Paragon: man dressed in red armor with a high voice, was “Jambi” and “Pterri” in Pee-wee’s TV shows.

    • CAMEO: Lynne Marie Stewart: impatient “mother superior” in Kevin Morton’s movie is “Miss Yvonne” from Pee-wee’s TV shows.

    • CAMEO: Phil Hartman: reporter interviewing Francis at the drive-in is “Captain Carl” from Pee-wee’s TV shows.

    • DIRECTOR CAMEO: Tim Burton: the thug who accosts Pee-wee just before he enters the fortune teller’s studio.

    • CAMEO: Cassandra Peterson: (a.k.a. Elvira) Biker Mama at the Biker Bar.

    • Pee-Wee’s bike sold at an auction in 2014 for $36,600.

Released: August 9, 1985

Directed By:
Tim Burton

Screenplay By:
Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens and Michael Varhol

Based on:
“The Pee-wee Herman Show”, a stage performance at the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood

Stars:
Paul Reubens, E.G. Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen and a bunch of other actors.

Plot: When eccentric man-child Pee-wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.

Taglines:  The story of a rebel and his bike.

How did this movie do?
Budget: $7 Million
Box Office:
$41 Million

  • Corey Feldman was originally offered the role of Francis Buxton but turned the role down due to scheduling conflicts with The Goonies (1985). Paul Reubens, as Pee-wee Herman, did visit the “Goonies” set once as both films were shot on the same lot.

  • This film is the screen debut of Darla the dog. Although she is uncredited as one of the pets escaping from the pet store fire, she has been featured in numerous films, including the role of Queenie in The ‘Burbs (1989), Precious in The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Ratty Poodle in Batman Returns (1992).

  • Phil Hartman is the voice of the rodeo announcer.

  • Lori Loughlin, Laura Dern, Phoebe Cates, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Jason Leigh were all considered for the role of Dottie.
  • Paul Reubens said that he, Phil Hartman, and Michael Varhol had never written a screenplay prior to this film. They purchased a book by Syd Field on how to write screenplays and did exactly what the book said. As a result, this movie is sometimes used in screenwriting classes because it fits the screenwriting paradigm perfectly – the film is 90 minutes long and the script is 90 pages long. The first act ends at Page 30 / 30-minute mark, the second act ends at Page 60 / 60-minute mark, etc.

  • Tim Burton and Paul Reubens asked Danny Elfman as composer because Reubens was a big fan of Oingo Boingo, of which Elfman was lead singer and songwriter, and Burton agreed after attending some concerts. Elfman was originally apprehensive, having no formal music training, and declined the offer, but his manager told him to tell Burton that himself. Elfman gave Burton a ring, but at the last moment, he changed his mind and decided to accept the job. He was assisted by Boingo guitarist Steve Bartek as orchestrator. Elfman later said that hearing his music performed by an orchestra for the first time was one of the most thrilling experiences of his life.

  • Approximately 10 to 12 bicycles were built for the movie by the Pedal Pusher Bike Shop in Newport Beach CA; a shop that specialized in vintage and classic bicycles and parts. They were offered $10,000 and no screen credit or screen credit only. The shop chose the money. The bike shop had an autographed 8×10 glossy of Paul Reubens that said “To Mike at Pedal Pusher: ‘Arrrrgggg!’ From Pee-wee Herman.”

  • This was Tim Burton’s directorial feature debut. He had previously directed some short films.

  • Many of the movie’s props came from the personal belongings of Paul Reubens.

  • The script is a nod to the Italian classic Bicycle Thieves (1948) in that the main characters prized bicycle is stolen, and the police don’t take the crime seriously, nor do his friends offer much help and as a last resort consults a dubious fortune teller.

  • When Pee-wee is hitchhiking to the Alamo, the Texas-shaped sign he holds up has a big star indicating his destination. The star isn’t over San Antonio, home of the real-life Alamo; it’s over Bracketville, home of the Alamo facade used in many western and period movies.

  • Jan Hooks improvised the dialogue for her scenes as the Alamo tour guide.

  • When Pee-wee is at the pet shop, he frees a chimpanzee first then enlists his help (he even tells the chimp, “you can help me!”). Pee-wee is also afraid of the snakes and is very reluctant to save them, which he does but he screams then passes out after doing so. In reality, Tim Burton has a phobia of chimpanzees.

  • The line why don’t you take a picture and it will last longer is said in all 3 pee wee Herman films

  • Pee-Wee plays a hotel desk clerk as his debut acting role in the movie within the movie. Paul Reubens previously played a similar role as a hotel desk clerk in Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980), one of Reubens’ first film roles.

  • CAMEO: John Paragon: man dressed in red armor with a high voice, was “Jambi” and “Pterri” in Pee-wee’s TV shows.

  • CAMEO: Lynne Marie Stewart: impatient “mother superior” in Kevin Morton’s movie is “Miss Yvonne” from Pee-wee’s TV shows.

  • CAMEO: Phil Hartman: reporter interviewing Francis at the drive-in is “Captain Carl” from Pee-wee’s TV shows.

  • DIRECTOR CAMEO: Tim Burton: the thug who accosts Pee-wee just before he enters the fortune teller’s studio.

  • CAMEO: Cassandra Peterson: (a.k.a. Elvira) Biker Mama at the Biker Bar.

  • Pee-Wee’s bike sold at an auction in 2014 for $36,600.
Pee-wee's Big Adventure | August 9, 1985 (United States) 7

Photos


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Videos


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Cast

...
Pee-wee Herman
...
Dottie
...
Francis Buxton
...
Simone
...
Mickey
...
Mr. Crowtray
...
Mario
...
Chip
...
BMX Kid
...
BMX Kid
...
BMX Kid
...
Chuck
...
Policeman #1
...
Policeman #2
...
Sgt. Hunter
...
Mr. Buxton
...
Francis' Accomplice

See full cast >>

Countries: United StatesLanguages: English, FrenchBudget: $6,000,000 (estimated)

Note: All images are property of their respected owners and used for editorial purposes.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure | August 9, 1985 (United States) Summary: When eccentric man-child Pee-wee Herman gets his beloved bike stolen in broad daylight, he sets out across the U.S. on the adventure of his life.
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English, French

Quotes

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