Pee-wee Is as Lovable as Ever
Character has changed little, which is what most critics like
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2016 11:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – Pee-wee Herman is back in his first movie since 1988's Big Top Pee-wee—and this time he's coming to us via Netflix. Bestowed an invite to a birthday party, Pee-wee leaves his comfortable Fairville and confronts reptiles, bank robbers, and some ladies looking to get hitched in Pee-wee's Big Holiday. Here's what critics are saying:

  • Audiences are in for "a shaggier, less rigorously paced adventure" than they might be used to with Pee-wee, but they'll find "frequent and long-lasting laughs along the way," writes Erik Adams at AV Club. Even at 63, Paul Ruebens hasn't lost his "undeniable energy" and the film as a whole is "a testament to the lasting power of Reubens' signature character. Like Fairville, he exists outside of time."
  • Jason Guerrasio agrees that "Reubens' strange brand of humor … works as well today as it did in the '80s." Some of the finest moments come via gadgets or a scene involving a balloon, he writes at Business Insider. "Yet the secret weapon of the movie, its modern touch, is (Joe) Manganiello. He is extremely funny and has a chemistry with Reubens that you'd never think would work until you see it on the screen for yourself."

  • "The odd-couple bromance … is something to behold," but Pee-wee's "antics haven't aged well," writes Brian Truitt at USA Today. Whether he finds a receptive audience among a new generation "depends on their capacity for old-fashioned humor," he adds. There's nothing close to as memorable as what can be found in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, he says. "Holiday can't be considered a big adventure or even a worthwhile nostalgia trip."
  • Brian Lowry felt "an initial rush of nostalgia and enthusiasm, which by the end had given way to silliness fatigue, and the question, 'When will this be over?'" which might simply be "a reminder that some things are best consumed in smaller doses," he writes at Variety. "Reubens remains as deft at bringing his man-sized child to life as he ever was," but "the biggest surprise, frankly, might be that the funniest person here is frequently Manganiello."