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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Movie Review - Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

Pee-Wee's Big Holiday (2016)
Starring Pee-Wee Herman, Joe Manganiello, 
Directed by John Lee
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  In the case of Pee Wee's Big Holiday, it allows me to overlook the fact that Paul Reubens' return to the character that made him a giant hit in the 1980s isn't very good.  I fully recognize that the generic plot isn't worth praising and the comedic aspects feel as if they were cooked up three decades ago.  However, because of that kooky thing known as nostalgia, I warmed up to what I was watching and was able to (somewhat) overlook the many foibles of this new film because it reminded me of a simpler time.

In Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, our title character Pee-Wee Herman lives in Fairville, a picturesque small town that seems stuck in the 1950s based off its vehicles and clothing and general aesthetic.  After a signature Rube Goldberg-esque opening, Pee-Wee arrives at his workplace -- a diner where he is the short order line cook.  One afternoon before the big lunch rush, Pee-Wee finds himself alone in the restaurant when a mysterious man arrives.  After he orders a milkshake, Pee-Wee strikes up a conversation with the stranger who turns out to be Joe Manganiello (playing himself), an actor traveling through Fairville on his way home to New York City.  Joe -- a macho, carefree guy --  is seemingly the complete opposite of Pee-Wee whose pleasant, though buttoned-up persona has kept him cloistered in the town of Fairville, unaware of the wonders that could await him outside of the town.  Joe is about to celebrate his birthday and in an effort to open Pee-Wee's eyes to the wonders of the rest of America, Joe invites our title character to his birthday in NYC, but he insists Pee-Wee travel cross-country to get there so that he can truly experience the nation.  After Joe leaves, Pee-Wee ponders the notion and decides to live his hometown behind to take a journey to NYC and along the way he meets a bunch of loony folks who should ultimately make him realize that he should've just stayed home.

I am fully aware that Pee-Wee's Big Holiday is not good.  Its episodic nature grows old fast as some of the characters Pee-Wee encounters simply aren't enjoyable enough to spend ten minutes getting to know.  However, as someone who watched "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" and loved Pee-Wee's Big Adventure as a kid, I found myself sinking in to a warm and comforting nostalgia while watching this.  I laughed a few times and the innocence of the characters reminded me of a simpler time in my life and I'm not sure there's anything wrong with that.  If Pee-Wee Herman doesn't hold a special place in your childhood memories, this one isn't for you at all, but if you fondly remember waking up on a Saturday morning and turning on CBS to watch him prance around his playhouse with Chairy and Jambi and Pterri, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday will be an enjoyable enough ninety minutes.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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