The Horror Honeys: Aahhh!!! PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY… or Bromance?

Aahhh!!! PEE-WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY… or Bromance?

A Horror TV Honey Review by Jennica

Pee Wee's Big Holiday (2016)

Growing up, I have always been a little awkward… or a lot. For the record, that awkwardness that kept me from the cool table in elementary school, kept me off the dance floor in middle school, kept me from being picked first during gym class in high school, and kept me from the frat parties in college has continued to stay with me. I love word play and lame puns, I constantly make corny jokes, I trip over my own two feet, I’m sometimes immature and obnoxious, and I love cartoons and wacky television shows. And the one man of both stage and screen who reminds me to embrace my inner weirdo and who has dedicated his career to providing all of us oddballs with a sort of imaginary safe space to be our silly eccentric selves is Paul Reubens, known by his adoring fans as the high-voiced, bowtie-wearing Pee-Wee Herman.

Every week, Pee-Wee would invite those like me sitting at home feeling cast out by society to take a mental vacation through their television sets to his playhouse, a place where we could fly, yell, talk to furniture, and even marry a salad without judgment or a care in the world. Because there were and still are so many of us wild and crazy kids in search of a place to belong and longing for more mind trips with our pal Pee-Wee, we were also graced with the release of two feature-length films: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Big Top Pee-Wee (1988). In those two films, Pee-Wee is taken out of the comfort of his playhouse and forced into a new environment just as the rest of us are in real life. At first, Pee-Wee struggles to be accepted by the various characters he meets because he is so unusual, but it is his strange demeanor that also causes those characters to fall in love with him, revealing to Pee-Wee that even the seemingly normal have their quirks. Now, twenty-five years since Pee-Wee last invited us to come out and play, Netflix has released an original feature film starring our favorite boy who never grew up in Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday. Although Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is guaranteed big fun, I still would not marry it.

The wedding's off!

The Plot: In Fairville, every day is the same for Pee-Wee Herman. His alarm sounds as he rises for work, he flies into his tiny car by balloon, tosses apples to the neighbor kids as he rolls down the street, and engages in acrobatics as he helps an elderly woman cross the street and dodges propositions from a travel agent and pretty blonde all before guzzling down a piece of Root Beer Barrel candy from a tiny straw as he strolls into work at the local diner. To Pee-Wee, Fairville is the end-all and be-all of his existence… until opportunity waltzes through the diner door and orders a milkshake. Just passing through on his way to bigger and better places, Joe Manganiello (True Blood)—whose name is completely unfamiliar to Pee-Wee, who lives in a bubble—tells Pee-Wee of his travels and all the sights that he has seen. Before they part ways, in an attempt to get Pee-Wee to “live a little,” Joe leaves him an invitation to his birthday party… in New York City. Beginning to feel a sense of underappreciation by locals in his hometown, Pee-Wee decides to leave Fairville and head to the Big Apple. Running into snakes, female trouble, and the law, will Pee-Wee make it to the city that never sleeps in time for Joe’s party?

Although a large part of my anticipation and excitement over another Pee-Wee movie was—and this likely goes for all of the 80s Pee-Wee fans—centered around the nostalgia, the weird comfort of hearing “I know you are but what am I?” in a singsong voice and talking to inanimate objects. But when creating a movie of this caliber with such an extensive cult following decades later, there is often a high expectation from audiences for there to be an even balance of old and new. We want to see familiar props and hear familiar catch phrases but we also want a new story with a new set of shenanigans. When stripped of the new setting and the new characters that Pee-Wee meets on his journey, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is essentially Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure version 2.0, only this time rather than chasing after a stolen bicycle, Pee-Wee is chasing after a budding bromance. Pee-Wee is an odd duck to say the least, so surely the writers who worked on this new installment could have come up with a distinct, unique storyline that didn’t involve sending Pee-Wee packing again.

I should have stayed home!
Despite coming across as somewhat redundant with its basic storyline, however, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is well-choreographed and had moments that certainly merited a hysterical out-loud chuckle or two. From a back-flipping little old lady to the Amish discovering the humor in squeaky fart-like noises, if there is one consistency that Pee-Wee has maintained that we can welcome with open arms, it is his continued determination to encourage the world that silliness is a necessity of daily life. Furthermore, looking beyond the playful awkwardness, what perhaps stands out the most about Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is that it not only reminds us that it is acceptable to be strange and quirky but it also acknowledges the hard truth that we all need someone like us to fill the void of loneliness and the feeling that we do not belong. Comfortable in his own skin as he may be, Pee-Wee has a sadness about him in the beginning of this installment. He shows that he is aware that he is different from the rest of Fairville and an upset Pee-Wee Herman is likely to haunt my dreams. But his eyes light up when he meets Joe Manganiello and, as they begin to bond, he discovers that even though Joe has his fame and fortune, he is still a weirdo at heart. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday reminds us not to fear taking a walk on the wacky side and it gives us something to look forward to in life: wacky companionship.

You've got a friend in me.
Since the 1980s, Pee-Wee Herman has taught us to wear our childlike off-the-wall personalities on the outside like badges of honor and twenty-five years later, he is back to remind us of that yet again. But he has also returned with another important message, to warn us not to close ourselves off from the rest of the world out of fear of the unknown just because we may not meet the status quo. Just as the sights outside our comfort zones may seem peculiar yet exhilarating to us, the world is likely to perceive us in that same light. Overall, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is fun, funny, and fundamental viewing material for us weirdos.

Jennica’s rating: 4 Root Beer Barrels out of 5

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is available on 
Netflix beginning March 18th

Will you be joining Pee-Wee on his Big Holiday?