Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s hard to believe a director like Tim Burton started out with a movie like this. Don’t get me wrong, I love this movie and it has always been one of my favorites. But when you think dark and dismal you basically think of either David Fincher movies or Tim Burton. He’s done “Batman”, “Mars Attacks!”, “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” just to name a few. The titles alone radiate darkness, and it’s reflected in the content of his movies. Still, you have to start somewhere, and “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” is it all started. As much of a contrast from his more recent movies, this movie is bright and vivid and full of color. As it should be – it’s a story about a boy and his bike!

We meet Pee Wee (Paul Ruebens) from the beginning. He has got to be the happiest man alive, he loves his bike and dreams of winning the Tour de France! Everything is right in his happy, colorful world until a local spoiled rich kid steals it. Pee Wee has no proof of this and neither do we, but as it turns out he does have it and Pee Wee is bound and determined to get it back. So he sets off in search of his bike, based on a few tips of people who have seen it. It even leads him to the Alamo of all places! You might say that the people that he meets along the way are somewhat of an “interesting” bunch. There’s a seven foot tall lumberjack who doesn’t want his girlfriend to experience her true joy in life…going to France. There’s the escaped convict that gives Pee Wee a lift until he runs his car off a cliff and then there’s Large Marge. Large Marge is a truck driver who picks Pee Wee up and gives him a lift, only Pee Wee discovers that she has been dead for 10 years! Weird! Of course, things just wouldn’t be right if Pee Wee didn’t find his bike, but let’s just say that it’s really close to home.

It’s hard to believe that the film is now over twenty five years old, heck I remember seeing it in the theater back in 1985. Paul Ruebens has since had some problems, but the movie was popular enough to inspire a spin-off “Big Top Pee Wee”, though that one wasn’t nearly as successful. What the movie really did was put Tim Burton on the map and his collaboration with composer Danny Elfman has never been better. Though I’ve described “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” as a bright and happy movie, it does have its dark spots. This isn’t like “cover your eyes” scary, but there’s a bit of trademark Burton in there. Fans of this movie will be pleased that this classic is now on Blu-ray and for those that haven’t experienced the pleasure, there’s no reason not to now.

Video: How does it look?

I find it hard to believe that Tim Burton was the man behind “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” as he’s more well-known for his darker films. This one, however, is a festival of light and color. The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer is improved over the previous standard DVD. Colors are a lot more vibrant with greens, reds and blues leaping off the screen. Detail has also been bumped up making for a much cleaner image overall. Flesh tones look normal and solid. The film has a very “film” like quality to it and fans should enjoy this presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sound mix for the film has been given a new DTS HD Master Audio mix that sounds very robust. Danny Elfman’s score is in top form here, it’s perhaps one of his best in my humble opinion. It sounds a bit more robust and belive it or not, I actually listen to this score on my iPod from time to time. Vocals are very strong and consistent, we can hear Pee Wee’s giggle in full uncompressed sound. Certainly the mix isn’t as aggressive as those made today, but it’s a very nice, solid soundtrack that’s sure to please.

Supplements: What are the extras?

We’ve got good and bad news when it comes to this inaugural Blu-ray release. All of the supplements from the previous standard DVD have been ported over, though no new supplements have been added. That said we do get a commentary track from director Tim Burton and actor Paul Ruebens. We also have the isolated score with some tidbits of information from Elfman (he doesn’t interrupt his own score, though). The same deleted scenes have been included and we see a gallery of storyboards. The original theatrical trailer has also been included.

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