**The following is an in-depth review of “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” and does contain spoilers.**
“Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” is the film return of Paul Reubens’ iconic 80s character Pee-Wee Herman. The last time this character was seen in a motion picture was in 1988’s “Big Top Pee-Wee,” the follow-up to his 1985 feature film debut – and the film that introduced audiences to the directing talent of Tim Burton – “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.”
The film follows Pee-Wee, now a short order cook for a local diner. While working at the diner Pee-Wee meets “True Blood” star Joe Manganiello and the two immediately hit it off, often sharing the same thoughts and speaking in unison. Learning that Pee-Wee has become stuck in a rut in his regular life, Joe invites Pee-Wee to his birthday party in New York City so that Pee-Wee can get away from it all.
Pee-Wee embarks on a road trip to New York – completely ignoring the events of the original film by stating this is his first road trip ever – and things head south from there.
Pee-Wee inadvertently picks up three armed bank robbers who steal his car and ditch him in the middle of nowhere. He is offered a ride by a traveling joke salesman, and just ends up getting into one sticky situation after another while trying to make it to New York City.
The film manages to bring several celebrity cameos, but there is one key element it forgot to bring: humor.
There is not a single funny joke in this entire 90-minute debacle. Not only are the jokes unfunny, they’re mostly tired and groan-worthy. “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” also fails at telling an engaging story. This is basically a re-imagining of “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” without the wonderful imagination and intriguing visuals of Tim Burton.
“Holiday” brings all of the fantasy and colorful characters the original had, but it doesn’t capture the imagination the way the original did. The original also had the benefit of having jokes that were legitimately funny, which this one doesn’t.
While “Big Top Pee-Wee” couldn’t even hope to compare to its predecessor, it at least kept the audience engaged and at least slightly entertained. Most of the time, I found myself actually feeling sorry for “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.” It was trying so hard, and failing so badly. It was almost like watching a small child playing his heart out on the little league baseball diamond, and just not being any good. This movie truly made my heart hurt.
“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” made me a fan of the Pee-Wee character and of Tim Burton. Over 30 years later, that film is still enjoyable. “Holiday” won’t be remembered 30 years from now. It won’t even be remembered 30 minutes from now. It’s literally depressing how bad this movie is, and how great it could have been.
The most die-hard Pee-Wee fans might find something to enjoy about this film, but I’m not sure if die-hard Pee-Wee fans even exist anymore. I don’t just recommend you skip this film, I recommend you run away from it for dear life.
I would gladly sell my soul to the devil right now to get back the 90 minutes I spent watching this movie.