Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Everything I learned from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Tired of the same movies my children had forced me to watch over and over (I’m looking at you, Frozen), but too cheap to spring the five bucks for a new on demand movie, I flipped through the free movies our basic service yet premium priced cable service provided.

Hmm, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.   
So I fired it up, and the kids loved it.  From Pee Wee’s Tour de France dream as the movie began to the entire cast reassembled to watch the movie premiere at the drive in, they were glued to the TV.  My son still screams “What’s the significance?  I don’t know” every once in a while and both of them jumped off the couch when Large Marge showed her face after the twisted wreck.
It reminded me of the things I learned from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when I was a kid.  I’d first watched it when I was ten and even showed it at my birthday party that year.  (The next day I watched the Large Marge scene frame by frame using our VCR’s pause and single frame advance buttons.  Ah, mid-eighties technology.  It really took out the scariness.)
So here are some things I learned from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

1)      Riding a bike is cool.  Riding a tricked out bike is cooler.
I rode my bike all the time as a kid.  After dinner, I would hop on my knockoff Schwinn bought at the Sears Outlet Store and ride around our neighborhood until right before the streetlights came on.  I’d stop in the park, watch the old guys play sixteen inch softball, scream down the dirt trails on the hill at the end of our street and wind through the banked path through the park.  It was exhilarating.  Alas, though, I never had a horn like Pee Wee did.  Of course, it was no longer cool to ride a bike once high school started, since upper classmen were driving cars.  But for a few years I was cool. I think.

2)      Don’t Trust Fortune Tellers.
This movie forever ruined fortune tellers for me.  Cast as money hungry shysters hustling and lying for a buck, the image sticks with me to this day. A broken-hearted Pee Wee is searching for his cherished bike and some creepy looking faux psychic stares into a fake crystal ball, looks out her window and sends poor Pee Wee on a wild bike chase to Texas.  If all outcomes “seen” by palm readers are based on neon signs hanging across the street from their store fronts, I want nothing to do with it. 

3)      There is no basement at the Alamo
Historically accurate.  The Alamo is tiny.  It seems much smaller in person than in the movie.  My brother and I toured it in twenty minutes.  Oh, and even almost thirty years later, they don’t like the question.  But at least they don’t point and laugh at you when you ask about the basement like they did in the movie.

4)      Clowns are creepy
When Pee Wee locked his bike to the clown while running his errands, it felt ominous to me.  Just a few minutes later, the clown is cackling at Pee Wee after his bike is stolen.  That creepy fucking clown scared the shit out of me as much as Large Marge’s face.  It might be the reason why back in college when one of my floor mates dressed up as a clown I said “Fuck you, clown,” as I passed him while taking the garbage to the trash chute.

5)      Rich people have bathtubs as big as pools.
I would have taken a bath everyday if I had a pool, er, bathtub as big as Francis’s.  The bath tub toys were even gigantic.  The boat Francis played with looked like the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier except that it actually floated.  Now, some tree hugging eco friendly hippies would say bathing in a tub that big regularly is a monster waste of water, but I still want it.

6)      Morgan Fairchild is pretty hot.
Enough Said.  I never watched any of the soapy shows she was on, but I was a fan.

After watching the movie the first time, I checked all the mattresses in our house to see if I need to report my mother to the proper authorities or if we were going to go through life hiding our criminal activities.  Thank God for Google these days.

8)      Everyone in Texas wears cowboy hats, cowboy boots and sings that song.
Um, well, many people in Texas wear cowboy hats and boots.  But most of the people I’ve met in Texas aren’t from Texas and wear sandals because it is so friggin’ hot.  The stars at night, however, are big and bright.

9)      Deep down behind the façade of toughness, biker gangs just want to be around good dances
This never made any sense to me, but how the hell else were they going to get Pee Wee to dance on a bar in those shoes?  Plus they needed to move the plot forward. 

10)    Wiping out with style is cool.
Early in the movie Pee Wee wipes out in front of a group of kids while imitating their stunts.  As he dusts himself off he says, “I meant to do that,” thus qualifying his actions as trick, not a mistake.  So when you wipe out in life, just spring right bake up and shout “I meant to do that,” something my sister and I did often as kids.  Like when you slip while climbing the stairs, or accidentally dump out your backpack on the floor in front of your locker.  Or that time you accidentally shoot your dog.  Wait, maybe not that one.  You did that on purpose.

So, instead of wasting your hard earned money on some new release, go watch Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  Save on your cable bill, you kids will love it (or you will, if you don’t have kids), and you’ll learn all of these things.  But you just read them here.  Well, go watch the movie anyway and then read this again after you watch the movie.  Or, as Pee Wee says, “I don’t have to see it, Dottie. I lived it.”

Thanks for reading.

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