Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special Movie Poster Image

Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special



Bizarre humor, high-speed antics, non-stop fun!
  • Review Date: October 8, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 48 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Pee-wee isn't the most outstanding role model for children. He's crass occasionally and likes to poke fun, but he's also inventive, vulnerable, and loads of fun. Pee-wee learns a bit about Hanukkah and holiday card-making, even more about sharing.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that, although there's nothing objectionable in this film, Pee-wee isn't the most outstanding role model for children. He's crass occasionally and likes to poke fun, but he's also inventive, vulnerable, and loads of fun. Pee-wee learns a bit about Hanukkah and holiday card-making, even more about sharing. Kids will learn how to say "Merry Christmas" in Spanish, even if Pee-wee has some trouble.

What's the story?

It's Christmas at the Playhouse and everybody's bringing fruitcake. Between putting Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello to work making holiday cards, teaching Little Richard how to ice skate, and going for a wild sleigh ride with Magic Johnson, Pee-wee manages to dictate a Christmas wish list long enough to choke a reindeer and decorate the Playhouse in anticipation of Santa's arrival. When Santa arrives, it's with less than merry tidings. It seems that Pee-wee's covetousness has deprived the rest of the world's children of their own presents. But not to worry. It's not too late to put things right, and learn a valuable lesson about sharing. Special guests include Cher, Magic Johnson, and, yes, the man himself, Santa Claus, who has a bone to pick with his host. Musical guests include Dinah Shore, Grace Jones, Charo, k.d. lang, and the Del Rubio Triplets.

Is it any good?


For a sure-to-please stocking-stuffer, you can't go wrong here. At this most festive time of year, let's give thanks to Paul Reubens (aka Pee-wee Herman) not only for giving us the phenomenally inventive Pee-wee's Playhouse series that enlivened children's programming in the mid-1980s, but also for delivering this refreshingly untraditional 1988 Christmas special.

A fresh alternative to the Rankin-Bass brand of cuteness that permeates the season, PEE-WEE'S PLAYHOUSE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL isn't syrupy, yet there's a very palatable sweetness to it. The innocence is attributable mostly to Reubens' chuckling man-boy character, but also to the creative talents behind the show and to the endearing Playhouse regulars who include Reba the Mail Lady, Cowboy Curtis, Miss Yvonne, and Jambi the disembodied genie. Behavior-wise, Pee-wee isn't the most outstanding role model for children. He's crass occasionally and likes to poke fun (maybe that's what makes him so identifiable), but he's also inventive (wait 'til you see what he does with all those fruitcakes he's left with), vulnerable, and loads of fun.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about greed and sharing. What is greed? Was Pee-wee greedy? Did he do the right thing by the end of the show? If you were in Pee-wee's predicament, what do you think you would do?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1988
DVD release date:October 19, 2004
Cast:Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Paul Reubens
Directors:Paul Reubens, Wayne Orr
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:48 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas Special was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old December 2, 2015

One Sexy Scene Not Mentioned In The Common Sense Media Review...

There's One Scene When This African American Girl Dresses In A Sexual Way. If You Are Under 8, Leave Right Now. This Will Not Be Appropriate For You. Here Are The Details: The Woman Dresses In One Light Blue Felt Thing With NO Sleeves, And, Is WAY Too Revealing In The Back. Also, You Can Tell That That's The ONLY Thing On. She's Also Not Dancing Appropriately. By The Time She Starts Dancing, She's Already Started Doing The Hips!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Adult Written bybethlthomson April 9, 2008
Educator and Parent of a 4, 13, and 16 year old Written byBaldwin November 18, 2011

A holiday tradition at our house

OK, Pee Wee Herman is an acquired taste. But I think he's actually a great role model, because he basically is a 5-year old in an adult's body. He acts obnoxious and selfish, but in the end he sees why it's important to be kind, think of others' needs, etc. I think kids relate better to this than to getting a lecture from a parental stand-in. And the energy, art, music are really fun and engaging.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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