Director: W. D. Richter
Original Release: 1984
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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."
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.