Pee Wee Herman gets invited to Joe Manganiello’s birthday party in New York City. But to get there, he will have to leave his home town of Fairville for the first time in his life.
To start off, I would like to say I have very mixed feelings about this film. One on hand it manages to seriously touch upon many of the old notes of comedy one would expect from our old pal Pee-Wee. It’s absurdist in the extreme including (and this is just a small sampling) a flying car, a woods hermit who raps about how his dad doesn’t love him and what feels like a four minute long balloon squeak solo. It manages to capture the insane wacky humor of the original movie and show almost perfectly. But at the same time, it seriously diverts from it in many places. The humor is rather adult compared to the old fare on more than one occasion. The first time I really noticed this was when three male strippers in nothing but speedos had a pillow fight with a trio of busty bank robbers. I found myself wondering who exactly this movie was for, is it for kids, or the kids who grew up watching Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. This type of tonal shift doesn’t happen too often though so not much to complain about there. In fact, this sprinkling of slightly more mature content might even be self referential. Near the beginning of the film three of Pee-Wee’s buddies tell him he needs to try new things and how they want to move on and try new things as well. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was in fact a slight reference to the fact that Paul Rueben’s might want to be well known for more than just the kids show character he so lovingly portrays.
No, the real complaint comes down to what appears to just be sloppy craftsmanship. If I was going to use one word to describe Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday it would be absurd. But where I to use two it would be absurd and sloppy. I lost track of the amount of scenes with glaring mistakes in them that could have easily been fixed by simply shooting one more take, or editing out the small snafu. Along with all these technical flubs there were many acting ones. Paul Rueben’s is on point during this film, portraying the character he was meant to play and the one he is most famous for, but the everyone else is either a bad actor or simply uninterested in the project.
It breaks my heart to say this but those small mistakes add up and somewhat ruin the whole experience. No matter how much I love seeing Pee-Wee and Joe Manganiello yell in Spanish at each other in slow motion I can’t give this new Pee-Wee flick more than a 5.5/10
Available on Netflix Instant streaming