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,
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:
Whorfin: Where are we going?
Red Lectroids: Planet Ten!
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
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
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.
the biggest flaw: there’s never been a Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime
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.
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.
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
It Stands Alone
Tally So Far