"The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension" Talkback (Spoilers)

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
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Jan 19, 2004
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The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension

I think the biggest problem for me about this cult science fiction satire is that as far as straight-laced spoofs go, it's a little too straight. The characters in The Naked Gun and Airplane! take themselves and their ridiculous situations seriously as well. The difference there is those movies actually tell jokes. This is a very strange erstwhile comedy in that nothing funny actually happens. This plays everything with a wink and a nod, and if somebody ever let us in on what the joke was supposed to be, I'd like it more.

I bet people of beloved 80's movies will consider my lukewarm opinion here as sacrilegious as my negative review for A Christmas Story. Let me stop you right there. I thought A Christmas Story was terrible, and didn't understand what people saw it in. For Buckaroo Banzai, I DO see the appeal, even if I don't share it. It's like Peter Griffin's comment to Quagmire dressed as Napoleon Dynamite. "You don't strike me as something I'd like, but others might." And just to add to the Matt Zimmer mystery regarding me trashing beloved quirky movies, I actually DID like Napoleon Dynamite. Weird, right?

This movie did not contain an all-star cast when it was made, but in hindsight? Holy cow. It's amazing the names in this is that went on to bigger and better things. I must have seen the movie 30 years ago and I never knew Clancy Brown and Carl Lumbly were in it.

I think Peter Weller is good and bad in the role of Buckaroo Banzai. He reminds me very much of Anthony Stewart Head from Buffy The Vampire Slayer with those glasses. What I have a hard time with is the fact that for a character with such a larger-than-life backstory and profession, Buckaroo doesn't have much of a personality to him. Maybe that's part of the satire of old sci-fi serials, but I look back on the TV show The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. starring Bruce Campbell, another similar valentine to old serials and cliffhangers, and Brisco is larger than life and lovable. And here I can't connect or even get a bead on Buckaroo. I'm sorry, fans. Satire or not, that's a problem.

I'll tell you what I like and you can tell me if you agree. There were a LOT of Buckaroo Banzai references during the Rick Berman era of Star Trek. Michael and Denise Okuda were crazy about the movie. And I'm guessing the fact that scientists are considered heroes and literal rock stars in the film really appeals to those specific Star Trek fans. Scientists are usually the villains in science fiction films. If they aren't actually supervillains, at best they are the misguided people who inadvertently bring about Earth's potential destruction due to hubris and folly. This movie making them this Universe's idea of widely admired superheroes (replete with their own comic books) is pretty special, whatever else I think of the movie.

The movie had one of the weirdest and most memorable end credit sequences in movie history when this was made. People didn't stop and stay for the end credits back then. Tags were rare outside of Ferris Bueller. But it's such a cool and funky sequence. I bet a bunch of people stayed put.

"Wherever you go, there you are," is a cool catchphrase too.

The credits tease a potential sequel that never happened. There are a couple of other sci-fi franchises that only had a single installment that I'm shocked never rated sequels. The Fifth Element springs immediately to mind, as does Galaxy Quest. Unlike those two movies I think Buckaroo Banzai would work if we finally saw the World Crime League 40 years later. Almost all of the main cast is still alive and still active. And even if the stars are bigger now than they were when the movie hit, nobody is a Tom Cruise. They would all be affordable gets for a return to the franchise. But on the other hand, the fact that the sequel has been long promised and never delivered IS a part of the movie's mystique and appeal. It would lose a little bit of magic if they ever pulled the trigger there.

Unlike A Christmas Story I'm not going to fully dismiss that beloved 80's cult film. But I do think it's overpraised. It's not that I don't get the joke, or that I'm not in on it. I just don't think the joke actually exists, or if it does, I don't think it's actually funny. ***.
 

Pooky

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Jul 14, 2010
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I remember really wanting to watch this when I heard about it c.2000, but VHS copies were scarce in the UK at the time, or at least I don't believe I ever saw one. Fast forward a few years and I picked the DVD up for a reasonable price. I was excited to see it, and I watched it at least twice, but I didn't really get it. I might give it another shot some day, and I might well get it more now, but it's not a priority.
 

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