Big Top Pee-wee [1988]

Genre: Adventure, Family, Comedy
There's nothing wrong with Randall Kleiser's Big Top Pee-Wee that Pee-Wee's Big Adventure director Tim Burton wouldn't be able to fix. Take the scene in which entwined farmer and botanist Pee-Wee and ravishing circus performer Gina (Valeria Golina) blissfully ponder the shapes of the clouds. One can only imagine the wondrous forms Burton would have animated in the heavens. In Kleiser's sequel, they are mere cumulus. A talking pig and a sympathetic gallery of outcast circus performers (including a young Benicio Del Toro as the Dog-Faced Boy) notwithstanding, Big Top squanders much of the first film's magic and goodwill. Blame it on the script, which places arrested adolescent Pee-Wee in a small town that is unaccountably hostile to him. Blame it on Paul Rubens, who, perhaps rebelling against his own iconic creation, puts Pee-Wee in some disquieting libido-fueled situations, such as jumping his schoolteacher girlfriend Winnie (Penelope Ann Miller). "The children," Winnie fights him off as her class looks on. Indeed. --Donald Liebenson

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