“Big Top Pee Wee”

By Lynn Hammarstrom

You know who you are. You’re the ones who get up at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings to watch him cavort with his inanimate friends. You amaze your acquaintances with your seemingly unending impersonations of him. You hang pictures of his bow-tie clad frame on your bulletin board. You are truly a Pee Wee Herman zealot.

For those of you who have somehow escaped being inundated by Pee Weemania (what have you been living in, a vacuum?) Pee Wee Herman is, briefly, the childlike creation of actor Paul Reubens, who, after a stunning success in his feature film “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” has moved on to superstardom with his own Saturday morning TV program (Pee Wee’s Playhouse) and who (gasp!) just got his own star on Hollywood Boulevard.

So here it is…Pee Wee Movie #2. How is it? Unfortunately, Pee Wee fans are in for something of a disappointment. “Big Top Pee Wee” attempts to make the Pee Wee boy into the Pee Wee man, with results that are disconcerting at best.

Our story opens with Pee Wee living on a farm (complete with a talking pig and a chocolate milk cow) perfecting miracles of horticulture in his greenhouse and having picnic lunches with his sickly sweet, gingham-gowned fiancee(?!). Somehow seeing Pee Wee as a romantic lead is rather unsettling. Seeing him actually lunge for the hapless (frigid?) female is actually bizarre. But wait, it gets worse.

Suddenly, into Pee Wee’s life blows (literally, there’s a storm) a circus. It seems the perfect setting for him. There’s great promise here for the wild antics of Saturday morning’s golden child. Pee Wee should be able to find all manner of funny things to do amidst the clowns, freaks and animals who comprise the Cabrini Circus.

But do we concentrate on these? NOOO! The main gist of the film’s plot is Pee Wee’s infatuation with a sexpot Italian trapeze starlet with whom he experiences an occasionally funny but generally soap opera-ish, courtship.

All works out in the end, of course. It’s explained to us in a colorful song and dance number. We see Pee Wee and the starlet blissfully happy and even the spurned fiancee has found true love with four acrobats. So much for frigid.

With the Greatest Show On Earth being only occasionally the focal point of this movie, “Big Top Pee Wee” might be more aptly named “Pee Wee Finally Loses It.”