Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)
PG / 90 min
Adventure / Comedy
Starring: Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox
Director: John Lee
It’s been almost fifteen years since the quirky Pee-wee Herman took to the small screen for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Actor and comedian Paul Ruebens has had small roles as Pee-wee here and there since then but the quirky and sometimes absurd character has been on hiatus for a while. It’s almost felt like there wasn’t going to be another Pee-wee movie. Leave it to Netflix to bring an old nostalgic property to the small screen. Pee-wee has come out of retirement…to take a holiday in the new family-friendly comedic romp Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, only on Netflix.
Were fans calling for another Pee-wee movie? I’m sure there were some fans hungry for another adventure with Pee-wee but it’s hard to say. When Netflix announced that they were making a full-length Pee-wee movie I was like, “okay, let’s see what they can do with it.” Not so surprisingly, Paul Ruebens still has it. Despite his age, he slid right into the role of Pee-wee Herman perfectly. He’s got the goofy laugh and rocks the numerous facial emotions that will instill nostalgic feelings in any die-hard fan. He even has the looks. I swear Paul Ruebens just does not age.
For his latest adventure, Pee-wee decides to step out of his comfort zone and go on a road trip to New York City. Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is the inclusion of Joe Manganiello who plays himself in the movie. In a bout of destiny, Joe meets up with Pee-wee at his café and inspires him to travel to New York City to attend his big birthday bash at his penthouse. There’s a big hilarious bromance that brews between the two that can get a little weird at times. Paul Ruebens and Joe Manganiello seem like the unlikely duo to star in a comedy but the two work well together and provide most of the feature’s laughs.
We only really see Joe at the beginning and end of the film, so the bulk of the comedy has its spotlight on crazy Pee-wee. Since this is a comedy of the road-trip variety, don’t expect Pee-wee’s first vacation to go smoothly. He runs into a female trio of thieves that kidnap Pee-wee, kicking off his journey with a bang. Pee-wee also runs into a farmer who has a whole handful of daughters that instantly gain interest in Pee-wee. Not to be outdone, there’s also a community of Amish people that welcome Pee-wee into their home. Pee-wee’s journey is never uneventful and it’s full of wacky surprises. He eventually makes it to New York, only to get himself into more foolish shenanigans.
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday has a short run-time, clocking in at about an hour and thirty minutes, but Pee-wee’s antics start to wear thin as the film goes on. Nostalgia takes the humor for a good while but even that can’t keep it floating for too long. The humor might work well with the younger crowd, but it just doesn’t work that well in today’s day and age. Pee-wee’s brand of comedy had its time and place but I’m not sure it flies these days. The movie has its moments that made for some genuine knee-slappers, but I wanted to laugh more…I really did.
The movie’s production value didn’t really help its cause either. It was from the film’s first moments that I instantly realized director John Lee was working with a slim budget. Normally I don’t mind low budget comedies, but there were scenes were I just laughed because of how silly they looked. There’s a scene where Pee-wee is flying through the air and yeesh…it didn’t look too good.
Fans of Paul Rueben and Pee-wee will probably enjoy the serviceable comedy that is Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. It operates a lot on nostalgia for the character, as well as the bromance between Pee-wee and Joe Mangianello. However, it’s a road trip comedy that wears its welcome and starts to burn out. Luckily Pee-wee made it to New York before the comedy started blow it’s tires, because that would have put a bad cap on an otherwise serviceable trip.