Seems like every inventor wants to create a Rube Goldberg device that will prepare an elaborate breakfast for you (or at least for your dog) by the time you sit down to eat. In the movies, most of these devices go hilariously awry (see: Wallace & Gromit, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Back to the Future). But in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, the machine works pretty well. Aside from some pancakes stuck on the ceiling, it delivers a picture-perfect stack of flapjacks, fried eggs, bacon strips, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and toast to Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens)—as well as dry dog food in the bowl of his dog, Speck. But Pee-wee’s inventiveness doesn’t end there; nor does his appetite.
His breakfast is incomplete without making his pancake stack into a face (with the eggs for eyes, the bacon strips for the lips) that Pee-wee can converse with, in Mr. T’s voice, as the breakfast itself asks for a breakfast of Mr. T cereal. In retrospect, it’s clear that the creativity and resourcefulness on display aren’t just Reubens’ but Tim Burton’s. Making his first feature, the director (accompanied, for the first of many times, by the manic music of Danny Elfman) showed off his penchant for pop weirdness and subversive fun.
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