The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
February 2, 2015 2:49 PM - Subscribe

Cult film club: Neurosurgeon/rock musician/physicist Buckaroo Banzai (pre-"Robocop" Peter Weller) meets a troubled girl (Ellen Barkin) at a club in New Jersey. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) just wants to go home, assisted by his bickering hench-aliens (the sublime trio of Dan Hedaya, Christopher Lloyd, and Vincent Schiavelli). Buckaroo and the Hong Kong Cavaliers (Jeff Goldblum, Lewis Smith, Robert Ito, et al.) discover that Orson Welles was telling the truth all along.

Written by Earl Mac Rauch

Directed by W.D. Richter

Vincent Canby in the New York Times: "At its best, which it frequently is, it's a lunatic ball, an extremely genial, witty example of what is becoming a movie genre all its own."

AV Club on the Special Edition DVD: " remains an occasionally incomprehensible rush of subplots, sight gags, mythology, and bizarre fashion choices, truer to the spirit of classic adventure stories than to the letter."

72% on Rotten Tomatoes

Weller and Lithgow and Kevin Smith speaking at a NYFF screening in 2011

Previously on the blue
posted by computech_apolloniajames (23 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
"You can study your anatomy all you want, but this far inside the head, everything looks the same. No, no, don't pull on that; you don't know what it's attached to."
posted by kewb at 3:28 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:21 PM on February 2, 2015 [7 favorites]

This movie is the best. It is the best thing. My neighbour has a thing where if she buys a watermelon, she leaves it somewhere odd until either someone asks about it or it needs to be eated.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:32 PM on February 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

This movie is just so fun and rewatchable and quotable.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:21 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I saw it in the theater with my brother and his friend. Afterwards as the credits rolled, they looked at each other and went "what was that?" But I knew what it was, I totally got it.

I love the book adaptation, too. It goes into more details about Buckaroo's philosophy, what happened to his first wife, and who left the keys in a red maserati outside the insane asylum for Dr Lizardo to find.

Don't forget that the Banzai Institute has been online since 1998. Prior to that you had to contact World Watch One via shortwave.
posted by Catblack at 6:48 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

I can't say that I love this film, mostly because I've really only seen it once, but my dad was working in the power station they used for a lot of the scenes, and there's a scene where John Lithgow is sitting at his desk.

So this movie is known in the family as "the movie Dad's desk and flashlight are in." Because, holy god, will he remind you. And point. And say "There's my flashlight!"
posted by Katemonkey at 2:01 AM on February 3, 2015 [16 favorites]

That Weller and Lithgow video is terrific.
I think the book had more of an impact on me than the movie, but they fed each other because there was this incredible world building going on, and that ends up being a quality that stands out to me more than anything else in any thing, but especially with something that was a tiny crack of a view into a world that hints at a much larger, greater world with no other portals into it. I can't even remember how it came into my life, but in strange addition, the first time I was in an academic library a few years later, while I was waiting for someone, I just happened to grab a book off a shelf that had an essay about Buckaroo Banzai, which made no sense at all. Out of nowhere, this thing no one ever knew about had an article somewhat explaining what it was and why I never got to see the sequel or comic books.

I haven't seen any of the comics yet but I know it's never going to live up to my imagination. There is forever a place carved into my heart for the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, from the small berries to the Bigbooté.

"What's in the big pink box?"
posted by provoliminal at 3:45 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

This is one of my favorite movies. Much to the chagrin of my friend named John Parker. I think, like Smith, a great many people of a certain age also wanted to be bus-owning rock star neurosurgeons.

Thank you sincerely for that Lincoln Center link.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:29 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:46 AM on February 3, 2015 [9 favorites]

Well, I still want the bus, of course. I've resigned myself to not being a world famous rock star and neurosurgeon though.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:52 AM on February 3, 2015

I love the book as well, and I really wish we'd gotten more of the Institute's adventures -- particularly if they'd included Pecos and Big Norse.

To this day I tell my boyfriend when I'm disappointed by something that he's like Jerry Lewis. He hasn't seen the movie so he just shakes his head.
posted by rewil at 10:53 AM on February 3, 2015

this is such a great film. best credits in any movie.
posted by rebent at 8:00 AM on February 4, 2015

posted by longbaugh at 11:36 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Well, not the worst or most boring movie I've ever seen but, man, I do not get the love. Kinda meh.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:12 PM on February 4, 2015

One key to really enjoying this movie is watching it high as fuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:17 PM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think it's being young, possibly in the mid eighties.
posted by provoliminal at 5:32 PM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

So, high, young, and watched in the mid-80s. Sounds about right. It feels very much a product of its times. I wonder what a remake would look like.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:53 AM on February 5, 2015

Teen in the eighties, yup; high as fuck, nope; and I loved this flick.

A 'remake' would be awful, because it would be an origin story, because movie makers have a real urge to over-explain things these days, and part of the charm of the movie is that it basically drops you into the middle of what seems like a wide and complex fictional universe without much in the way of back-story or explanation. (This was also part of the appeal of Star Wars for those of us who saw it in the first theater run, IMO.) Like my first assumption after seeing BB for the first time was that this was about the third movie in a whole series, and that somehow I'd missed the first two, and I spent a whole bunch of time trying to figure out where the other movies were and how I could get my hands on them. Then I realized what was going on, and started hoping for sequels. Which of course never really appeared.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:40 AM on February 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh man, I can't believe I missed this thread till now. I loved BB in its initial release. There's something so buoyant about it. I managed video rental stores from 1987-1993. When the film came out on video, I played it in the background when I opened the store about 90% of my solo shifts. Yup, I watched it almost every day. I couldn't do it if I was working with someone else because they all got so sick of it.

Seven years. Five shifts a week. Maybe four of those working by myself. I think it's possible that I've seen this movie more times than anyone else on the planet. I'm pretty sure I could manage a pretty faithful recreation of the screenplay from memory.

Then I worked at Virtual World featuring BattleTech and Red Planet. My call sign was Buckaroo. I had a BKARU vanity plate on my car with a frame that said "No matter where you go, there you are". Even now our family geocaching team is Blue Blaze Irregulars.

So what, big deal.
posted by rekrap at 4:03 PM on February 18, 2015 [4 favorites]

rekrap: “Even now our family geocaching team is Blue Blaze Irregulars.”
I love this movie as much or more as any other robust American man of middle years, but I swear to Christ that until right this very second I always thought it was Blue Blazer Regulars and I am apparently not the only one.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:31 PM on February 18, 2015

Teen in the eighties, yup; high as fuck, nope; and I loved this flick.

Ditto. My Jr. High bestie and I saw this together - we actually intended to see Starman, which was also screening then, but the theater was sold out when we showed up. So we studied what else was playing, saw this, and just picked it at near-random.

When the movie let out, we walked silently all the way out of the theater, through the lobby, and out to the sidewalk, trying to process it - before finally turning to each other with huge grins and shouting "that was awesome!" We then spent the rest of the school year quoting the film at each other and giggling to the general confusion of all around us.

I have since, as an adult, shown it to friends who hadn't seen it - they all say they don't quite gt it. I think it's the kind of thing that you can only "get" when you're 13 and on a high (be that high from drugs or sugar).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2017

Heh. Watching this tonight for the first time in quite awhile. Gods, it’s just such wacky fun.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:15 PM on December 3, 2018

So, high, young, and watched in the mid-80s. Sounds about right. It feels very much a product of its times. I wonder what a remake would look like.

There can't be a remake. We haven't seen "Against the World Crime League" yet.
posted by mikelieman at 9:29 PM on December 3, 2018

« Older Movie: The Defiant Ones...   |  Podcast: NPR: Pop Culture Happ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments