Watch It

Enter your location to get local movie times + tickets:
On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: Now

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 0

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Gene Siskel

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, at either location is the slightest bit funny. [13 Sep 1985, p.C]

  • 10

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    The movie has the cartoonish realism of a Muppet movie. However, Mr. Herman is no Kermit the Frog, although he made me feel like Oscar the Grouch. [13 Aug 1985, p.1]

  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Michael Wilmington

    The wrong crowd will find these antics infantile and offensive. The right one will have a howling good time.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times

    Pee-wee's Big Adventure goes up and down the hills of Pee-wee shtick, without much concern for things like cohesiveness and consistency. What makes it wear so well is the balance achieved between Pee-wee's nitwit nervousness and his pathetic optimism. [12 Aug 1985, p.35]

  • See all Pee-Wee's Big Adventure reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Just as charming and curious as it was in 1985.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pee-Wee's quirky 1985 movie is a cult-classic among devotees of Paul Reubens' bow-tied alter ego. Although even preschoolers will likely find Pee-Wee's antics funny, there are some sinister dream sequences and near-fights that might frighten the youngest of viewers. Large Marge is especially scary. Elementary-aged kids, however, are just the right age to appreciate Pee-Wee's singular mission to find his beloved stolen red bicycle and to witness the various hilarious ways he manages to get out of scrapes without ever getting hurt.

  • Families can talk about what makes Pee-wee such an entertaining character. Why do so many kids -- and adults -- like him? Can you think of any other characters who are as well-loved by both age groups?
  • Why don't we see more characters like Pee-Wee?
  • What do kids know about comedian Paul Reubens? Do actors' personal lives affect your appreciation of their artistic work?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true0

    Educational value: Purely meant to entertain.

  • message true0

    Messages: Not many overt positive or negative messages, but Pee-Wee's persistence and resilience is rewarded. Also, the perspective of a child -- as personified by Pee-Wee -- is respected.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Pee-Wee can be a bit bratty. He seems to love his bicycle more than his friends, but in the end realizes he treated some of his friends unfairly.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence and scariness: Pee-Wee has several pratfalls and nightmares and is involved in a few cartoonish bike and foot chases. Pee-Wee and Francis wrestle underwater, and Pee-Wee holds his head under, but neither of them is injured. A jealous boyfriend is bent on catching Pee-Wee and at one point shows a gun, but no one is hurt. A car appears to crash, but again, there are no casualties. In a couple of nightmare sequences, there are visions of potentially frightening clowns, devils, and dinosaurs. Large Marge may scare younger kids.

  • sex false1

    Sexy stuff: Dottie flirts with Pee-Wee and asks him out, but he declines. A jealous boyfriend thinks Pee-Wee is trying to steal his girl. Pee-Wee and Simon hug. In a movie-within-a-movie, the PW and Dottie (played by James Brolin and Morgan Fairchild) kiss while the real characters are finally on their date to the drive-in.

  • language false2

    Language: One use of the word "crap," the titular phrase "Burn in hell" during a Twisted Sister music video, and Pee-Wee's trademark "I know you are, but what am I?"

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: The Warner Bros. studio is shown (it produced the movie), as are concession candies such as Milk Duds.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A scene occurs in a biker bar. Pee-Wee dances to the song "Tequila."