A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pee-Wee's Big Holiday is a welcome addition to Pee-Wee Herman's captivating collection of film fare. Almost 30 years after his last screen appearance, the innocent, inventive man-child is back with an adventure that easily stands on its own. Ideally today's audience would be familiar with Pee-Wee and his various "playhouses," but it's not necessary. The mild action and/or sexual innuendo -- a comic bank robbery with big-breasted women, male strippers, a police chase, a brief confrontation with a snake, a fall into a well, a kidnapping -- are all comic, never seriously scary or suggestive, and fine for older kids.
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What's the story?
In PEE-WEE'S BIG HOLIDAY, this "Pee-Wee" (the ageless Paul Reubens) is different. Unlike the Pee-Wee Herman we knew before, this Pee-Wee has never ventured out of his friendly, picture-perfect home town. He's more than content in Fairville, with his Rube Goldberg inventions making his home a veritable treasure chest of fun and quirkiness and his job as a short-order cook at Dan's Diner just about the best job a boy-man like Pee-Wee could have. What's more, everybody loves him. All that changes when a new guy comes to town. Joe Manganiello (as himself) and Pee-Wee are immediately fast friends, and Joe wants Pee-Wee to come to New York City for what's going to be a spectacular birthday party. At first, Pee-Wee is reluctant. He doesn't want to go anywhere, doesn't want to try anything new. But Joe is very convincing, and, in the blink of an eye, Pee-Wee is off on the road trip of his life. Encountering an astonishing assortment of Americana and eccentrics -- from buxom bank robbers to a shotgun-wielding farmer to an entire Amish village -- Pee-Wee learns the joys of breaking rules and hearts, all while making valuable new friends and finding himself in the midst of exciting adventures. Will Pee-Wee make it to Joe's Manhattan penthouse for the party? And, just as important, will Fairville be willing to welcome him back when his holiday is over?
Is it any good?
It's lucky for today's kids and nostalgic grown-up kids that superfan Judd Apatow came along to encourage Paul Reubens to bring Pee-Wee back. The character is as ageless, innocent, open-hearted, and quirky as ever -- but with a new slant. This Pee-Wee has never been anywhere; he's never experienced life outside his beloved hometown. What a wonderful opportunity this gave director John Lee and Reubens. They created a delightful road movie, with the characters and events on that road reminiscent of the gadgets that made up every Rube Goldberg invention found in Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Despite a few sluggish moments and a reliance on some dated sight gags (overweight women, buxom bank robbers), cheers are in order for all the players -- especially for the very lovable Pee-Wee himself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film term "road movie." What is it, and what is the format? Why is it such an appealing concept? Do you have a favorite "road movie"?
Think about the costumes in this film. Starting with Pee-Wee himself and running through the people he meets on his adventure, how do the costumes the filmmakers chose immediately tell you about the characters (i.e., the owners of the Snake Farm, the hairdressers, Grizzly Bear Daniels)?
Why did Pee-Wee's new friend Joe think it was important for him to take a "holiday" from Fairville? How does traveling, trying something new, and venturing out of our routines enrich us?
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