Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Pee-wee Herman, a resident of Fairville and a cook at Dan’s Diner, meets and befriends actor Joe Manganiello, who convinces Pee-wee to go on the first vacation of his life to reach New York to celebrate Joe’s birthday party. Upon leaving Fairville, Pee-wee unintentionally becomes involved with three women who have just robbed a bank: Pepper, Freckles, and Bella. After the women steal his vehicle, Pee-wee gets a car ride from Gordon, a traveling salesman who gives him a disguise kit.

Pee-wee spends the night at a farmhouse inhabited by Farmer Brown and his nine daughters, each of whom have a romantic interest in Pee-wee. The next day, Farmer Brown insists that Pee-wee get married to one of his daughters. During the wedding ceremony, Pee-wee uses the disguise kit to flee the church. Pee-wee meets Penny King, an aviator with a flying car who offers to fly him to New York. When the flying car crashes, Pee-wee winds up in the wilderness and then joins an Amish community, where he encounters the bank robbers.

That night when the women attempt to steal a horse buggy, Pee-wee convinces them to leave their money behind for the Amish citizens to purchase a replacement. Pee-wee and the women arrive in New York via horse buggy. Pee-wee falls down a well just before Joe’s birthday party. Joe rescues Pee-wee after hearing about his situation on a newscast.

REVIEW:

Growing up, I was a pretty big fan of Pee-Wee Herman. Every Saturday morning, I would get up and watch Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (something I recently did again, since it was on Netflix). Now it appears as though Pee-Wee is back. Will I have the same love for the character that I did as kid? Let’s find out!

What is this about?

A chance encounter with a mysterious stranger (Joe Manganiello) points Pee-wee toward his destiny — and his first-ever holiday!

What did I like?

Trapped in time. I love small towns. There is something so charming about the laid back, relaxed feel of these quaint places. In Fairville, the town where Pee-Wee is currently living, it also seems as if they are stuck in the 50s, complete with diner, greasers, etc. As it is presented to the audience, I have no problem with it and wish I could go visit!

Be yourself. Sometimes when a celebrity appears in a film, they play a similar character to who they are in real life. Other times, they use their real name, but use a personality/characterization that is totally opposite of who they actually are. Sometimes, though, they appear in a film as more than just a cameo, as Joe Manganiello does. I have no problem with his appearance here. I was skeptical when I heard he was in this, wondering how he would fit, but it makes sense now. As a True Blood fan, though, I couldn’t help but want a bit of Alcide to be show in his portrayal.

He works hard for the money. I’ve always wondered how Pee-Wee made a living. Much like SpongeBob Squarepants, he is of an undecipherable age (based on his character, not Paul Reubens), but seems to always have new toys, gadgets, etc., and let us not forget that wonderful playhouse he had! I don’t recall if previous films showed him working, but this one does. Another similarity to SpongeBob, he’s working on the grill. Hmmm…could SpongeBob be this generation’s Pee-Wee, of sorts?

What didn’t I like?

Capers. I get that this film was meant to just pick up where we last saw Pee-Wee on the big screen, at least in terms of how it was made. One small adventure after another worked for Pee-Wee’s last films, but I don’t feel as if it worked as well this outing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why, because it should have been just fine. Maybe it is just the fact that the way movies are made now, or perhaps it is because it felt like a series of bad sketches flimsily strung together. At any rate, by themselves, these capers would have been fine, but together it was trainwreck.

Another Pee-Wee? Alia Shawkhat is cute as a button. I saw she was cast in this film and I got so excited, hoping this would be a break for her. unfortunately is isn’t. Shawkhat is relegated to the unrequited love story, at least it appears that way, that should have been but never happens. You would think when they first meet and find out they are both names Pee-Wee (complete with the gazing into each other’s eyes) it would have gone somewhere, but nope. What a waste!

Something is off. Pee-Wee Herman has always been a forever young, eternally optimistic big kid. That is why he has been so popular through all these years, despite Paul Reubens’ adventures in a darkened theater. Well, someone decided that this Pee-Wee needed to be more sarcastic and less funny (much like today’s comedians). It ruins that character, which in turn brings down the film. If they are going to continue with more Pee-Wee stuff, he needs to go back to good ol’ Pee-Wee, not this version. Also, Reubens is starting to show his age. Not really anything that can be done about that, just an observation.

Final verdict on Pee-Wee’s Holiday? Netflix took a big chance with this project. It had been nearly 30 years since Pee-Wee was last seen entertaining anyone, save for some crowds that Reubens was testing material out on. I applaud them for ambition, but this feels cheap. With all the money they spend on Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Orange is the New Black, etc., a few more $$$ could have been shelled out to make this not look like a film student’s first film on green screen. I enjoyed what I saw, though I didn’t love it and can’t really think of a reason to rewatch, so no I do not recommend this flick.

3 out of 5 stars

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