The Film: The
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
, 1984

The Principals:
WD Richter (Director), Peter
Weller, Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd,
Clancy Brown

The
Premise:

I don’t know that
I can sum it up in the space allotted. There are Red Lectroids from
Planet Ten and only Buckaroo Banzai and his Hong Kong Cavaliers (with an
assist from some Blue Blaze Irregulars) can stop them from doing evil.

Is it Good:

Hell yeah it’s good. It’s great. It’s classic. It’s one of those movies
from the 80s that actually holds up.

I saw it in a packed house at the New
Beverly Cinema last night, and what a blast that was. Besides the
audience being so juiced for the movie and so into every line and joke
(the audience chanted along with the Red Lectroids in this exchange:

John
Whorfin:
Where are we going?

Red Lectroids: Planet Ten!

John
Whorfin:
When?

Red Lectroids: Real soon!

), we were
treated to a legendary Q&A beforehand. Mr. Beaks of Ain’t It Cool
essentially let Peter Weller go freeform, and it was amazing. Did you
know that Christopher Walken thinks Christopher Lloyd is the weirdest
guy who ever lived? Did you know that Weller met Jeff Goldblum the night
Goldblum lost his virginity? Did you know that Weller just finished the
written exams for his PhD?

Anyway, the movie: It holds up. Earl
Mac Rausch’s script is a perfect boy movie – after all, Buckaroo holds
down every job that a 9 year old could possibly want. He’s a rock star, a
scientist, a doctor, a spy, an adventurer, a comic book hero. The
movie’s low budget keeps much of the action in the Burbank hills and
some warehouses, but that only adds to the sense of play – these young
actors are having a blast brandishing guns and chasing each other down
warehouse corridors.

What’s most surprising in retrospect
is how good-natured the film is. Buckaroo is a paragon of virtue, and
non-ironically. There’s not a mean bone in the movie’s body and it’s not
making fun of anything, and is having fun with everything. The film is
anything but straight-faced, but that smirk hides a big dose of
sincerity.

The
movie’s not flawless; Richter’s pacing is off, and I think he actually underuses
Lithgow, especially at the
end. Lizardo/Whorfin only has one really great scene, and that’s when
he’s first introduced. We needed one more set piece with him.

And
the biggest flaw: there’s never been a Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime
League
(even
though everyone involved was signed to FIVE sequels, an option that is
still in place). As an eleven year old nerd this movie haunted my
dreams; friends and I would parse the film to try and find clues to what
could come into play in the sequel. My big theory: Penny wasn’t a twin,
she was a clone,
created by the World Crime League to infiltrate the Hong Kong Cavaliers.
Sadly we’ll never know.

Is it
Worth
a Look:
Have you not already
seen this movie? Why not? What’s wrong with you? Do you hate goodness?
If you have not yet seen The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
Across the 8th Dimension
, rectify that immediately. If
you’ve seen the movie but not enough times to know the correct response
to the question ‘Why is there a watermelon there?,’ watch it again ASAP.


Random
Anecdotes: 
The scene where Buckaroo is being
tortured took dozens upon dozens of takes, because Weller was cracking
up so bad due to the over the top performances of Lithgow and Lloyd. And
don’t feel bad if you have trouble following it all the first time
through – Weller says the actors never figured out what it was all about
either.

Cinematic Soulmates: 
It Stands Alone


The
Tally So Far

 Positive  Negative
 Pontypool Deadgirl
 State of Play The Children
 Orphan  It’s Alive
 Grace  Friday the 13th, Part 3
 Inside  Hounddog
 3000 Miles to Graceland Columbus

Day

The Last Supper  Angel

Eyes

 Things To Do In Denver
When

You’re
Dead

Highlander:

The
Source

 World’s Greatest Dad  
The Killing Hour (aka The
Clairvoyant)

 Lady Beware  
The
Neverending
Story

 Pitch Black  
 For All Mankind  
 Splinter  
 Blessed

by
Fire

 
 Outland  
The Kindred  
 

Top

Secret

 
 

Beer Wars

 
  The Brood  
The

Incredible
Hulk
 

 
Undertaking

Betty

 
 Cache  
 
Taxi
Blues

 
 
Across the Universe
 
Lord of War
 
 
Dead Heat