As impossible as it may seem, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is 30 years old. Originally released on August 9, 1985, the film not only brought Paul Reubens’ famed manchild character into the mainstream public’s consciousness, but it also marked the directorial debut of Tim Burton. The film, for those of you who have somehow not seen it, chronicles Pee-Wee’s whimsical attempts to be reunited with his beloved bicycle after it is stolen. Woven onto this threadbare plot is a tapestry of hilarious scenes and memorable characters. While the world collectively awaits next year’s arrival of the Judd Apatow-produced Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday, let’s take a look back at the most memorable quotes from his first cinematic outing some three decades ago.
“I know you are but what am I?” – Pee-Wee Herman
To kick off this rundown of memorable quotes, let’s get things started with the ultimate Pee-Wee taunt. Is there a better response to an insult than what you see above? No, no there is not.
“Be sure and tell ’em Large Marge sent ya!” – Large Marge
In a scene that traumatized ’80s kids, Pee-Wee encounters a mysterious trucker named Large Marge…a character whose very name still sends chills up the spine of anyone who saw the film during its original theatrical run.
“You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” – Pee-Wee Herman
Sure, he may look innocent enough what with his bow tie and all, but deep down Pee-Wee is a man of mystery (who was also in Mystery Men…) that is as complicated as solving a Rubik’s cube underwater. He’ll break your heart every time, and you’ll keep coming back for more.
“I say we let him go.” – Pee-Wee Herman
An integral part to the enduring success of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is its script. It was written by Paul Reubens, Michael Varhol, and Phil Hartman, who helped Reubens fine tune the Pee-Wee character and portrayed Captain Carl in the original stage show based on the character. Hartman also appeared on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, although, by that time, he was beginning to find success on his own through his work on Saturday Night Live.
“Deep in the heart of Texas!” – Random Texans
Much to my eternal dismay, the above trick doesn’t work. If your attempts have yielded better results, please let me know below in the comments.
“I bought this pen exactly one hour before my bike was stolen. Why? What’s the significance? I DON’T KNOW!” – Pee-Wee Herman
Pee-Wee’s coping skills may not be the best, but they certainly are hilarious.
“There’s no basement at the Alamo.” – Tina
Fun fact: The above scene still inspires people to ask about the Alamo’s basement, probably much to the dismay of the tour guides who work there. Or maybe they’re into it. Maybe that brief moment of interaction allows them to be more than a cog in the wagon wheel of Texas tourism. I don’t want to assume.
“Why don’t you take a picture? It will last longer!” – Pee-Wee Herman
Way to run with this advice, everyone. Your food instagrams are enthralling.
“Paging Mr. Herman. Mr. Herman, you have a telephone call at the front desk.” – Pee-Wee Herman
Now in 2015, meta humor is all the rage, but 30 years ago self-referential scenes like the one featured here were few and far between. More than just a fun flick, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure planted the seeds for comedy yet to come.
“I meant to do that.” – Pee-Wee Herman
Hands up if you’ve tried to recover from any fall, mistake, or life embarrassment by using the above line. Yep, me too, but the judge was like