Sunday, August 3, 2014

Family Movie Night: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Title: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
Director: W. D. Richter
Original Release: 1984
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Buckaroo Banzai is one of the zaniest mainstream movies you'll ever see.  It was also an undeniable box office flop.  And yet, mentioning the film around those of a certain age and bent elicits smiles and guffaws.  The grand sweep of the narrative is ridiculous but there are nuggets of pure gold embedded throughout.


Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a Renaissance man of tomorrow: scientist, test pilot and rock musician.  He and his band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, travel around in the greatest tour bus ever, tricked out with the sort of communication equipment you'd expect in the Bat Cave.  They even have their own comic book series and young fans all over the country, networked through a CB-radio club.

One day, Dr. BB breaks the sound barrier in a pick-up truck and crosses over to another dimension.  From there, the story gets quite complicated indeed.  In short, his breakthrough inspires a group of aliens - already on Earth, disguised as defense contractor employees - to do the same to get home.  They're not afraid to start World War III as a distraction in order to do so.  Like I said, crazy story and I'm barely scratching the surface.  But fully understanding the narrative is not required to appreciate the charms of this movie.  It's all in the little things.

There are great lines...

BB, to his fans as he tries to comfort a distraught woman: "Hey, hey, hey — don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause, remember: no matter where you go... there you are."

Great exchanges...

Lord John Worfin (John Lithgow), to the Red Lectroids, his alien minions: Where are we going?
The Red Lectroids: Planet Ten!
Lord John Whorfin: When?
The Red Lectroids: Real soon!


Everybody is in the cast: Jeff Goldbloom, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Lloyd, Clancy Brown, Dan Hedaya, Yakov Smirnov.  In one of my favorite moments, Lithgow's character calls Lloyd's a weak man.  Lloyd, in full alien costume, responds by flipping him the bird, a simple gesture perfectly executed.

Buckaroo Banzai is the sort of movie one would need to watch several times, I think, in order to really get it.  I have a soft spot in my heart for this film but I don't think I could sit through multiple viewings.  So, a rating of 3 is best.

21 comments:

  1. The minute I saw your heading I burst out laughing.
    I haven't seen this movie for ages . What a hoot !
    Thought I was the only person who knew and liked this movie.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Crazy movie. I mean, just looking at the first sentence of my third paragraph - the one starting "One day" - taken out of context, it's absurd. The whole movie's like that!

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    2. all I can say is what a hoot !

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  2. Oh, I used to watch it all the time and have it on VHS.
    Speaking of lines... well, I can only paraphrase:
    "John Bigbooty?"
    "Big-boo-tay!"

    It was also the favorite movie of my favorite teacher who showed it in class every year on his birthday, so we spent two days of AP Bio II watching it.
    heh

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    1. I think I could handle an annual viewing.

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  3. This film was on Beta when our oldest kids were teens. We loved it, and the catchphrase,"Don't be mean." became a family axiom.

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    1. Beta max! You know, I recently came across an old Beta machine that could have been mine for free. It was tempting, just for the novelty. But no.

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  4. I remember seeing it as a teen and being REALLY confused!

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    1. Yeah, I think one needs to surrender to that confusion and roll with it. The story's a lot like a dream: internal logic that makes no sense at all once you wake up.

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. BB is a great movie when you watch it a bunch of times, but it's not an easy movie to get. I'm not surprised about the rating, but it's still one of my top tens A.S.

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    1. I'd be curious to see that Top 10 list, Maurice!

      I'm almost certain this one will come up in our rotation again.

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  7. :) Is this on Netlfix? I'd actually consider it.

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    1. Not for streaming but yes on DVD. That's how we got it. Do be honest, I'm shocked that you haven't already seen it!

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    2. You know, I was gonna do the Stand by Me thing you and Mock are hosting but it's only available on DVD through Netflix and we just have the streaming option. Like three movies I looked up to watch are DVD only. Kinda sucky. I hadn't even heard of this until your post!

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    3. That's a shame. Both are available to rent through Amazon Instant Video - $3 each. You might try Hulu as well.

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  8. I hate to say it, but I never cared for the film. I do like quirky movies, but this one just wasn't it for me.

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    1. I totally understand. It's definitely not for everyone.

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  9. Good lord, I remember this movie always made me shake my head, ha ha. But then again, I like Pee Wee's Big Adventure, so what am I shaking my head about? Absurdity? Obviously, not.

    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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    1. I've never seen Pee Wee all the way through - that's the head-shaker for me. Even absurdity is subject to individual tastes, I guess.

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