Big Top Pee-wee (1988)

Pee Wee and Vance.

Pee-wee and Vance.

Pee-wee Herman has traded in his awesome bicycle for a farm in the country, where he plans on endowing the world with agricultural advances amazing enough to make him the next George Washington Carver. Pee-wee is content to hang out with his best friend Vance (a talking pig) and have lunches with his fiancee Winnie (Penelope Ann Miller), even though they don’t really seem to have anything in common. The one problem in Pee-wee’s life: the townsfolk. Everyone in town can’t stand the happy-go-lucky youngster, and all go out of their way to make him feel excluded. No one even offers him and Vance a ride when a giant storm is headed into town!

Pee-wee, Mace and Mace's "little" lady Midge.

Pee-wee, Mace and Mace’s “little” lady Midge.

Pee-wee and Vance rush home to put all the farm animals in the storm cellar. When the storm is over, and the shutters thrown open, Pee-wee’s in for a big surprise: the circus has landed on his farm! Run by a feller named Mace Montana (Kris Kristofferson), the Cabrini Circus is hurting in a real way – their wagons are broken, their mermaid needs water, and they need to put a show on TONIGHT!

Ever the helpful guy, Pee-wee offers his services to Mace and the circus. It helps that he falls hard for the trapeze artist Gina Piccolapupula (Valeria Golino), and also that Pee-wee desperately wants to be part of the

The one and only Benicio Del Toro as Duke the dog boy.

The one and only Benicio Del Toro as Duke the dog boy.

circus. Again, though, he is foiled by the fogeys in town – none of them want to see the circus, even after all their hard work! But Pee-wee’s determination gets him the girl, the circus, and the act, of course.

This was a favorite of mine as a kid. It has a very different tone than Pee-wee’s Big Adventure; it’s much lighter and goofier, but there is a certain darkness to it. Still, don’t pop this in expecting to see the same type of movie. Certainly it is not as good as Adventure, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and charming; a total joy to watch.  So glad we picked this up at the thrift store! I hadn’t seen it in well over a decade, and it held up to my childhood memories, which is saying something indeed. Also, who ever thought they’d see Paul Reubens and Kris Kristofferson in the same movie? Also still, Benicio Del Toro plays the dog boy!



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