A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 31 – The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension – March 31, 2010

I could practically write this review without watching the movie. We’ve seen it so many times, we know it by heart. It is unquestionably one of our favorite movies of all time. But we’re watching the extended version tonight, and since we depended on an ancient VHS copy for a long time, we’ve only seen the extended version a few times. The major difference is the opening ‘home movie’ that gives some extra background for the character of Buckaroo and his origins. It also names Hanoi Xan, a villain who plays no direct role on the events in the movie, but is far more involved in the story in the book.

Completely aside from the movie’s awesome cast and plot, there’s the script. This is probably our most quoted-from movie. I’m including a quotation list at the bottom, because I cannot help myself.

So have you seen this movie? If you haven’t, why not? Afraid of the 80s fashion and John Lithgow? It’s cool. I can forgive that. Lithgow’s a freaky guy. But seriously, don’t drag your heels on this one. Go watch it, then come talk to me. Because I don’t want to waste my time explaining it in detail. There’s just too much to cover to express the awesome. I mean, Buckaroo himself! He’s a physicist/brain surgeon/philosopher/martial artist/rock star. Seriously. And he travels around with his band/think tank, the Hong Kong Cavaliers. They’re all musicians and scientists and philosophers too. In point of fact, in the beginning of the movie, after Buckaroo leaves surgery and goes to drive his jet car through a mountain (using his Oscillation Overthruster, which allows him to move through solid matter by way of the 8th dimension), he and the Cavaliers sit around getting ready for a music gig in a club, which is later interrupted by gunfire, whereupon every member of the band pulls out a gun and closes ranks around Buckaroo, who just wants to find out what’s going on and talk it out. That is Buckaroo. That is how this movie works. The humor is often dry and deadpan and the cast delivers it perfectly. Like when they discover that the evil aliens on Earth are all named John (so are the good aliens, but you find that out later), or the bit about the watermelon.

On the surface it’s a ridiculous science fiction plot. Buckaroo has this amazing device that lets him access the eighth dimension, which has been used as a prison for a race of evil aliens. A small group of the evil aliens are stuck on Earth and looking for a way to free their fellows and go back to their home planet. The good aliens who trapped them there find out that Buckaroo has found out a way to access it and send down an emissary to tell Buckaroo that he needs to thwart the evil aliens’ plans or they’ll instigate a nuclear war between the US and Russia. So Buckaroo and his team have to keep the overthruster from falling into the wrong hands. It sounds so silly! And it is silly at times, but the movie plays it so well that the silliness fits in absolutely perfectly with the entire mood, while keeping the plot itself just serious enough for there to be dramatic tension. In the middle of it all, Buckaroo finds a woman who’s the spitting image of his late wife (she turns out to be his wife’s separated-at-birth twin) and she joins the group.

And oh man, the group. The Hong Kong Cavaliers are a fantastic team. There’s Rawhide, Perfect Tommy, Reno, Pinky Carruthers, New Jersey… Okay, so it’s a big boys club. Not so true in the book, but then the book has a lot of little details that aren’t in the movie. I’m not sure whether the book or movie came first. I’ve found mixed information and while Wikipedia claims the book is a novelization of the movie, I haven’t really trusted Wikipedia since I found that the article on my home town was so badly researched that they claimed two areas with different zip codes were the same geographic space with two names. So, yeah. It’s a pity that a character like Big Norse (a young woman who’s at the Banzai Institute but is unfortunately tone deaf and not in the band) isn’t in the movie, but then, the book is so chock full of detail and characters and details about the characters, it just wouldn’t be feasible for everything in it to be in the movie and keep the movie as clean as it is. Then too, if the movie came first and then the book, the book obviously expanded on things from the movie and made the Institute more inclusive, which is cool by me. I’d grumble more about the lack of female Cavaliers, but I forgive the movie, because it’s thoroughly awesome otherwise. And knowing what I know about the Institute from the book, I know that the Cavaliers are only the most public face of Buckaroo’s endeavors. The Institute itself is full of a wide variety of races, genders, nationalities, etc. But fine, that’s not in the movie. Sorry.

Really, no review can do this movie justice. How can I put into words what the end credits alone show without a single line of dialogue? This movie is pure fun.

Anyhow, Buckaroo really is the heart of the movie. I distinctly recall Andy telling me at one point that he wants to be Buckaroo Banzai when he grows up, which is perfect, since I want to be Emma Peel when I grow up. Clearly we’re both still kids, because I’m not Emma Peel and he’s not Buckaroo Banzai, but once we grow up, watch out, because we’ll be the most awesome team ever.

Now, the quotes, because I had to:

“No no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.”
“Because I’m perfect.”
“I’ve got his tracks. They go right up to a wall of rock! Holy shit!”
“He’s done it! He’s gone through the mountain!”
“It has not gone through the wall!”
“Lithium is no longer available on credit.”
“Home. Home is where you wear your hat! I feel so break up, I want to go home!”
“Laugh-a while you can-a Monkey Boy!”
“Is someone out there not having a good time?”
“Hey, hey, hey. Don’t be mean. You don’t have to be mean. Because, remember: No matter where you go, there you are.”
“You tell him it’s John Whorfin calling. That’s W-H-O-R-F-I-N, you got that, honey? John. J-O-H-N.”
“You boys are makin’ fun of me.”
“Why me?” “Because you’re perfect.” “You have a point there.”
“I’ve been ionized! But I’m okay now!”
“What is this?” “It is your hand, Buckaroo.”
“Nice night, huh?”
“Sorry, John. Everybody needs to see Buckaroo.”
“Why is there a watermelon there?” “I’ll tell you later.”
“Nice morning, huh?”
“Well, if it wasn’t Buckaroo Banzai, I’d say commit the man.”
“He’ll come! I know his type!”
“Use more honey! Find out what she knows!”
“Declaration of war. The short form.”
“What is the greatest joy?!” “The joy of duty!”
“Character is what you are in the dark!”
“Where are we going?!” “Planet Ten!” “When?!” “REAL SOON!”
“Sealed with a curse as sharp as a knife, doomed is your soul and damned is your life!”
“The missing circuit’s in your head, Whorfin.”
“Perfect Tommy! No strike teams!”
“Bigbooty! Activate your probes!”
“There are Monkey Boys in the facility.”
“It’s not my god damned planet, understand, Monkey Boy?”
“They’re only Monkey Boys! We can still crush them here on Earth!”
“Shut up, John Bigbooty you coward! You are the weakest individual I ever know!”
“One more word out of you Bigbooty…” “Bigboo-tay! TAY TAY TAY!”
“We are not in the eighth dimension! We are over New Jersey!”
“It flies like a truck.” “Good. What is a truck?”
“Buckaroo, The White House wants to know is everything ok with the alien space craft from Planet 10 or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?” “Tell him yes on one and no on two.” “Which one was yes, go ahead and destroy Russia… or number 2?”
“So what? Big deal.”

March 31, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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