A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Purely meant to entertain.
Not many overtly positive messages, but Pee-Wee's perseverance and resilience are rewarded. Also, the perspective of a child -- as personified by Pee-Wee -- is respected.
Positive Role Models
Pee-Wee can be a bit bratty. He seems to love his bicycle more than his friends, but in the end he realizes he treated some of his friends unfairly.
Violence & Scariness
Pee-Wee has several pratfalls and nightmares and is involved in a few cartoonish bike and foot chases. Pee-Wee and Francis wrestle underwater, and Pee-Wee holds his head under, but neither of them is injured. A jealous boyfriend is bent on catching Pee-Wee and at one point shows a gun, but no one is hurt. A car appears to crash, but again, there are no casualties. In a couple of nightmare sequences, there are visions of potentially frightening clowns, devils, and dinosaurs. Large Marge may scare younger kids.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Dottie flirts with Pee-Wee and asks him out, but he declines. A jealous boyfriend thinks Pee-Wee is trying to steal his girl. Pee-Wee and Simon hug. In a movie-within-a-movie, the PW and Dottie (played by James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild) kiss while the real characters are finally on their date to the drive-in.
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One use of the word "crap," the titular phrase "burn in hell" during a Twisted Sister music video, and Pee-Wee's trademark "I know you are, but what am I?"
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Products & Purchases
The Warner Bros. studio is shown (it produced the movie), as are concession candies such as Milk Duds.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A scene occurs in a biker bar. Pee-Wee dances to the song "Tequila."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, a quirky 1985 movie, is a cult-classic among devotees of Paul Reubens' bow-tied alter ego. Although even preschoolers will likely find Pee-Wee's antics funny, there are some sinister dream sequences and near-fights that might frighten the youngest of viewers. Large Marge is especially scary. Elementary-aged kids, however, are just the right age to appreciate Pee-Wee's singular mission to find his beloved stolen red bicycle and to witness the various hilarious ways he manages to get out of scrapes without ever getting hurt. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Those who found Tim Burton's feature film debut a charming curiosity when it hit the big screen in 1985 will find it just as charming -- and just as curious -- today. Children and open-minded adults unfamiliar with Pee-wee Herman are in for a surprise. The movie's success, which paved the way for the Saturday morning show Pee-wee's Playhouse, is due in large part to Pee-wee himself. As personified by comic Paul Reubens, the smooth-faced, childlike man with the infectious chuckle has a unique appeal that elevated him briefly to the status of cult icon.
Reubens' sensibilities work well with Burton's equally bizarre artistic vision. The movie's wild production designs, a bit of claymation, and lots of unusual toys and props demonstrate what ingenuity can do on a tight budget. Pee-wee isn't regarded as abnormal in this movie -- as he was in the less successful follow-up, Big Top Pee-wee -- rather, he's just an innocent man-child in a red bow tie who would rather find his stolen bicycle than go to the drive-in with the persistent Dottie. Kids can certainly identify with that.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.