Paul Ruben’s Love for His Most Famous Character Shines in ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.’

Pee Wee Herman is back at long last, a little older and a little creepier. In this, the less talented sibling of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Pee Wee meets Joe Manganiello and falls madly in love with him (Honestly, who can blame him?). Actually, the two hit it off and form the ultimate bromance and Joe Manganiello invites Pee Wee to his birthday bash in New York City.

Pee Wee, however, is very timid and has never left his home town, but despite that, he embarks on a journey to break rules, break hearts, and live a little.

I’ve always considered Pee Wee’s Big Adventure one of the greatest road comedies of the 1980’s and, if you’re expecting another Big Adventure, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I know this because I kind of was… I was wearing rose-colored goggles of nostalgia and, as every moment of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday ticked by, I found myself more and more disheartened. In every sense, it’s smaller… it’s less imaginative… and it’s less bizarre.

But, I have to ask myself… exactly what was I expecting here? To expect another movie as wacky and wonderful as Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is a fool’s errand and I was the fool for expecting it. So, instead of comparing Big Holiday to a movie it could never be, I just decided to look at the movie it actually was.

And, you know what? It’s not bad.

Certainly, this film is no classic. It’s very flat and the direction is cheap and tepid. Paul Rubens is obviously past his prime as Pee Wee, but he does try his strange little heart out and that’s more than I can say for most of these nostalgic comedies. I suppose that’s what eventually sold me on this movie: Paul Reuben’s loves Pee Wee and it shows. This is a guy who sees this character as an integral part of his life… it’s a part of who he is and he’s never shied away from it. He cares about Pee Wee Herman as though he’s his own child and it shows in his performance. I mean, for goodness sake, Rubens is 63 years old and, although he’s not as quick or as limber as he used to be, he can still pull off Pee Wee Herman! That’s commendable.

Pee Wee’s Big Holiday has its problems… obviously the budget and the vision just wasn’t there, but if you keep yourself from comparing it to the classic Adventure movie of 30 years ago, you’ll find a light-hearted and well-intentioned comedy waiting for you. Sure, it’s not great and it’s got a load of things going against it, but it never stops trying and that extra try is worth a lot in my books.

Now, if Paul Reuben’s can just do that Pee Wee’s Playhouse movie he’s been wanting to do before he gets too old, all will be well with the world.

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