Search This Blog


favourite Posts


My Top 5 Favorite Scenes from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure!

I changed up my Pee-Wee's 35th Anniversary article for when it was posted over at The Retro Network (speaking of, go check out The Retro Network for so many great shots of nostalgia in both podcast and article form.)

I tend to cut stuff out of the articles there so they don't run as long as I do here, but since this is my blog, I figure I can say whatever it is that I need to get off my chest here.

So, long story (ha) short, I cut out the recap of Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and replaced it with my Top 5 favorite scenes from the movie.

I thought it came off well there, so why not continue Pee-Wee's Big Adventure week with making that an article here?  So please, enjoy my Top 5 Favorite Scenes from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure!

Click on, dear reader!

5. The Breakfast Rube Goldberg Machine:

What child wouldn’t want one of these? After waking from his Tour de France dream, Pee-Wee slides down a fire-pole, and just like Batman, he is fully dressed when he lands in his kitchen. That’s cool enough. After greeting his dog, Speck, he kicks off the device by lighting a candle under a string. A chain of events created by a vacuum, golf ball, miniature Ferris wheel, Abraham Lincoln statue, a drinking bird toy, and a garden gnome begin making his eggs, bacon, and pancakes. A flying dinosaur on a string carries his bread to the toaster while the incredible invention spits out food into Speck’s dog bowl.

Pee-Wee’s pancakes, eggs, and bacon make a big happy smile on the plate… which he promptly covers in “Mr. T cereal.” He then gets up after only eating a handful of cereal to get his bicycle. Check out blooper when the stagehand ducks out of the way as his secret garage opens to reveal the bike for the first time.

Even as a kid, I thought this must be wonderful to have but what a pain it must be to set up every night so it was ready to go in the morning. The magic of movies!

4. Mickey Lets Pee-Wee Drive:

After Mickey picks up the hitchhiking Pee-Wee, the two grow into fast friends after we find that Mickey was incarcerated (and escaped) for ripping the tags off of a mattress. They grow closer after Pee-Wee pretends to be Mickey’s wife to help him evade the police.

As day turns to night, Pee-Wee takes the wheel and starts to ask a sleepy Mickey about life in the “big house.” Pee-Wee himself gets drowsy, and suddenly the road begins to make twists and turns, complete with ridiculous matching road signs. Pee-Wee takes them right off a cliff, but the two are saved when the cloth convertible top acts as a parachute. Once on the ground, an angry Mickey tosses Pee-Wee out of the car and uses Pee-Wee’s “I’m a loner, a rebel…” line on Pee-Wee and drives off.

The red glow of tail lights slowly fades to an all-black screen where an animated pair of Pee-Wee’s eyes move around the screen. Weird animal noises begin to frighten Pee-Wee, and he finds his flashlight goggles. The screen suddenly lights up to see Pee-Wee surrounded with all sorts of stuffed and live animals. Everything from a live cougar to a stuffed deer and black bear. The image of him surrounded by so many animals still makes me laugh, 35 years later.

3. The Shopping Mall:

Not only is this a pivotal scene in the movie where Pee-Wee’s bicycle gets stolen, but this scene alone reminds me of my childhood. While I didn’t grow up in California, this outdoor shopping mall, complete with a movie theater with its giant marquee that read “Cartoon Cavalcade,” the small mom and pop shops like Mario’s Magic Shop and Bookworm’s BookShop, and Chuck’s Bike-O-Rama. All of the stores have signage that screams mid-1980’s: bright colors, goofy fonts, and matching awnings. Chuck’s even has red, yellow, and blue shapes sprinkled on the sign that I consider the 80s version of 90s splatter paint.

I mentioned earlier that when I watch this movie, it appeals to all of my senses, and I can just imagine what Mario’s Magic Shop must have smelled like. I figure it smells like dust, burning incense, and rubber from the Halloween masks. It’s dark and dingy, complete with an amazing red-light washed out look as Pee-Wee tries out things like rubber ears, bow ties, and other magic tricks. Mario’s store is cluttered with fun items kids and adults will love, as was the Halloween/hobby shop I grew up visiting.

In contrast, Chuck’s is bright, organized, and sterile inside. The colorful red and blue bicycles counter the mostly white store. The whole scene just takes me back to the malls of my childhood.

2. Large Marge, The Diner, and the Dinosaurs

Perhaps everyone’s favorite scene in the movie, once Pee-Wee is left alone in the desert by Mickey, a big rig truck comes along and picks him up. A quiet, grumpy old woman is driving. After Pee-Wee tries talking to her, she relates a story about “On this very night, ten years ago, along this same stretch of road…” and ends with a claymation face with bulging eyes that scared every child of the 80s to death.

When Pee-Wee gets out at the truck stop diner, he walks in and lets everyone know that “Large Marge sent him.” The restaurant grows quiet, and a man retells the same story that Pee-Wee heard from Large Marge. The camera pans over to a plaque dedicated to the late Large Marge, where Pee-Wee discovers he was riding with… (in unison, now) “Her Ghost!”

Pee-Wee realizes that Madam Ruby has stolen his wallet days ago and cannot afford to pay for his meal, so he gets to washing dishes. Here we get to know Simone, who offers to continue their conversation as the sun comes up out in the dinosaur.

The Cabazon Dinosaurs were made famous in this scene, as the giant tourist attractions light up in glowing red and green neon lights. Simone and Pee-Wee climb to the top of the red T-Rex and watch the sunrise in what looks like a comfortable theater setting to talk about Simone’s “big but.”

While I’ve since found out you can’t actually sit in the mouth and watch the sunrise in the real thing; the Cabazon Dinosaurs are towards the top of my bucket list as a must-see. Just watch out for Andy when you’re there!

1 The Alamo Tour

Jan Hooks, as Tina, the tour guide, comes off as one of the funniest moments in the movie. Oblivious to Pee-Wee’s desire to hurry, and adored by everyone in her tour group but Pee-Wee himself, Tina rambles on about The Alamo and the Tex-Mex history of the locals. Can you say, “Buenos Dias?”

Tina beams sunshine through her toothy smile. Even as she ignores Pee-Wee’s boredom and exaggerated eye rolls, she delivers her lines with an upbeat dry sense of humor. A personal favorite of mine is, “There are thousands and thousands of uses for corn… all of which I’ll tell you about right now.”

Who hasn’t been trapped somewhere, like a school field trip or the DMV, where we haven’t been Pee-Wee? Bored and antsy while we are shuffled around in a line, forced to listen quietly when all we want to do is something else. Anything else.

At the start of the Pee-Wee's 35th Anniversary article, I mentioned my personal experience with the Alamo. It was amazing to be there; don’t get me wrong. Having my photo taken in front of the iconic mission building is something I’ll never forget. The rest of it? Well, it’s in the middle of a downtown city block. They keep the grounds nice, but the building itself is really just one big room.

As someone with a Pre-Civil War American History “concentration” (my college didn’t allow minors on a 4-year degree), I’ve always thought of the Alamo as this fantastic place. One last stand for the brave frontier folk moving out for a better life in Texas. All of the romanticism that comes from such an important place in American history has made the Alamo, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, legendary in my view.

Any specific memories about Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure you’d like to share? Please leave a comment below!