Fire up the Oscillation Overthruster, because Buckaroo Banzai is the Greatest Movie EVER!
Click on the poster or the movie title above to download our review of the film, featuring guest cohost Clarissa Graffeo of AnimeWorldOrder.
Review in a Nutshell: Idiosyncratic and unapologetic, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a unique film with elements of science fiction, action, adventure, and comedy. You’ll either love it or hate it; there is no middle ground.
This movie contains:
Dr. Ian Malcolm.
Third Rock from the Sun.
i’ve seen this, it is quite cool
NIce review. And a hearty Welcome to Clarissa. Its about time we got some more feminine blood in the GME podcasts.
I feel, I’m in the middle ground on this one. I really want to like it but something just doesn’t work. Also, Luthor? Not the Kurgan? Thanks for the podcast on this one, I should probably give it a second-and-a-half chance.
I really wanted to like Buckaroo Banzai, it has two elements that make it a sure win for me, and that is 1) it was made in the 1980’s and 2) it’s sci-fi. However, movie failed for me almost unlike any other. I think I remember someone saying that the movie attending a party where everyone only talks in in-jokes and won’t let you in on the joke. I’d go further in that it’s a comedy, action, adventure with about half the script randomly deleted, no comedy, action or much adventure, and an editor who fell asleep randomly during the editing process, but still continued to edit while somnambulant.
The making of had interviews with the actors and multiple times during the interviews the actors said that this was unlike any movie they had ever made. I don’t believe that they actually meant that in any sort of positive way and were largely trying to be diplomatic about this train wreck they now had a contractual obligation to promote.
I honestly believe that 90% of the actual appeal of this movie, especially to nerds is entirely attributed to the title of the movie. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension absolutely screams nerd love. I could film The McLaughlin Group and call it “McLaugh Dynamic’s Zombie Punching Adventures in the Cave of Everlasting Doom”, create a bunch of guerrilla advertising sites with Gary Busey, and nerds would love it. People would remember that movie for 20 years and remember when they first heard about it and when they first saw it, fan fiction would be written and fans would try to explain away the problems with the film.
If the director and writer want to make a movie that’s got a lot of back story behind it that’s not explained, that’s fine, I can enjoy those movies, but make the movie that they’re presenting everyone enjoyable by itself too, don’t make the audience have to hunt for the enjoyment. If I’m supposed to read some novels and some comics before I’m going to understand enough about the characters to actually care about them, then this has failed in its writing. If I enjoy the characters enough to want to go out and read those comics and novels, then the movie is a success, a big success since that’s merchandising for you, and I couldn’t care less about any character in this movie.
I also totally disagree about the editing. The movie unwittingly seems to like to make awkward jumps from action to in action, from characters we know to character we can’t recognize or are obscured. The opening introduction movie with the jumping around from the surgery to the car scene didn’t just confuse me, but the other people watching the movie at the time, was the surgery happening at the same time as the speed experiment? Was it happening earlier? Later? The editing certainly doesn’t help. The first time the John’s are on the planet in the round meteor is another scene that illogically jumped from person to person, long shots to close ups all making things harder to follow for no good reason. Those are just two examples that come to mind since I don’t have the movie in front of me, but I remember not being the only one confused by the choices in the editing room.
Overall, I can’t stand it, and I think my frustration is worse because I really wanted to like it for the aforementioned reasons, but too many technical problems and me just not caring at all about the characters and their supposed bad-assness or how hard all the nerds try to push that this is a “documentary of actual events” just made it totally devoid of entertainment for me.
Buckaroo Banzai is a movie I want badly to love, but it falls short on a couple of points.
First off, Peter Weller is just not interesting as the main character. There’s something missing in his performance.
Second, while I did like the feeling of a large backstory to the movie at a certain point they took it to far. Now, I agree, if you can’t smile when they’re all on stage and all the guns come out this isn’t the movie for you, and I did like that scene. But when the ten year old revealed that he was a junior blue blaze irregular (or whatever) with a secret decoder ring and special phone number, it was just such a hokey 1950’s Captain Cornball moment that it took me out of the movie. And when he stepped off the bus carrying a machine gun and ammo belts across his chest…I’m trying and failing to find the words to describe how idiotic I found that scene.
By no means am I saying that I hate, or even truly dislike the movie. But the parts that annoy me do so to the point that I can’t say it’s the great movie it should be.
That end music is damn catchy though. Even after more than twenty years it’s still one of those pieces that will get stuck in my head.
This is not necessarily Buckaroo Banzai-related, but over the weekend it was brought to my attention that some people were not aware of an important rule of media:
Much like how whenever Scott Bakula shows up you’re supposed to say “IT’S BAKULA TIME,” whenever you see a unicorn on-screen you should say “IT’S PAUL CHAPMAN TIME.”
Remember this well.
I’m curious as to what exactly inspired this revelation, Daryl.
Oh that ending gets me every time. Reminds me a bit of Solar Babies.
“I’m curious as to what exactly inspired this revelation, Daryl.”
. . . I’ll tell you later.
Peter Weller is a truly dangerous man, even without the Robocop armor. (Just ask Jack Bauer.) I think one’s ability to “get” his acting methodology is directly proportional to one’s ability to “get” Nicolas Cage. For as deadly as this film is, it’s not even the most lethal Peter Weller venture. That distinction belongs to Naked Lunch.
In addition to Lex Luthor, J’onn J’onzz the Martian Manhunter (or M.A.N.T.I.S. as I first knew him, though I think he met his demise at the hands of an invisible dinosaur in the last episode) is also present here. I’ll give you a pass as far as not mentioning this, as he is a shape-shifter and all.
Although further films detailing the future exploits of the Banzai Institute have not come to light, there are some comicbook sequels and prequels from the original docudrama creators you may want to look into. There is also the small matter that now that the Hong Kong Cavaliers have been discussed, one is now clear to discuss the biographical exploits of the trucker that was to give them a ride back to the Banzai Institute during their battle against the World Crime League: Mr. Jack Burton.
That’s right the sequel to end all sequels. Sooner or later he rubs everybody the wrong way and this is a story I would like to hear as Jack Burton just might be the greatest movie character ever.
I really didn’t think there was anything to “get” with Peter Weller. My problem is that he’s a pretty bland actor with a creepy as fuck face who appears to be sweating like a fat guy even if he’s not fat, and, from longer shots, no distinguishing features.
Two things about this. First, is that Peter Weller teaches a course in Italian art at UCLA that, from what someone told me is far from a fluff course. Second, when I watch Buckaroo Banzai, the vibe I get is an 80’s re-telling of the Doc Savage mythos.
Peter Weller has a Masters in Renaissance Art and is currently working on his PhD in the same.