Brain surgeon, rock musician, adventurer Buckaroo Banzai is a modern renaissance man and has made scientific history. He perfected the Oscillation Overthruster, which allows him to travel through solid matter by using the eighth dimension. Along with his crime-fighting team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, he must stop evil alien invaders from the eighth dimension who are planning to conquer our dimension. He is helped by Penny Pretty, the long-lost twin sister of his late wife, and some good extra-dimensional beings who look and talk like they are from Jamaica.
Wonderful, under-appreciated, low-budge pseudo-Sci-Fi film
I'm not surprised that many people do not 'get' this film. It is a very low-budget, 'psuedo-Sci-Fi' film. 'Psuedo', because it is most definitely not serious about being 'Sci-Fi'. All of the 'science' is portrayed totally tongue-firmly-in-cheek. If you didn't get that with the "baby bang" reference from "Doctor" Penny Priddy during the press conference scene, well, then I'm sorry, but you're hopeless.
If anything, this is an anti-Sci-Fi film. It's a spoof of all those 1950's-era Sci-Fi films where the incredibly bad science interpretation is played completely seriously. I mean, c'mon, the Overthruster tracking device with the UPS-truck turn-signal click should have clued you in that someone isn't quite serious here.
What we've got here is a great romp with some future mega-stars having a great time. Lithgow's performance alone is worth the price of admission. Ellen Barkin is luscious in both that pink dress and her tied-up black skirt. That jail-cell flirtation scene... well, what more can I say? Those wonderful in-jokes: "Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems". YOYO-dyne? "The Future Begins Tomorrow"... well, of course it does. "Negative, we do not have crossover... we are over New Jersey. All is not lost." Well, of course it isn't... or is it? (Born and raised there, Woodbridge Twp., sorry. To this day, my sister and brother-in-law live in New Brunswick, I'm not making this up.) If you own the DVD, as I do, then you probably know that practically nothing was created for this film. The Red Lectroid bivouac was an abandoned Firestone tire factory. If you ever did high-school drama, you probably recognized Lizardo's foot-pedals as an ancient lighting dimmer board. The spinning Styrofoam cup in the "shock tower" (an automotive term) takes the cake.
There is so much going on in this low-low-budget film to laugh with, not at. If you watch this film looking not to trash it but to laugh with it, I think you will get far, far more out of it.
I only wish they had been able to make the sequel.
And finally, I originally saw this film when it was first released, in the Harvard Square cinema in Cambridge, Mass. The screening was sparsely attended, but you could tell that some people "got it" even then, and many didn't. Too bad.
Witty Sci-Fi Spoof
W.D Richter's Buckaroo Banzai succeeds on many levels, thanks to a wonderfully droll sensibility and inspired casting. Peter Weller lends a perfect, dead-pan seriousness to the very 'out there' proceedings, while John Lithgow chews up the scenery as the fiendish Dr. Lizardo. Ellen Barkin is particularly fetching as Penny Priddy, while Jeff Goldblum stakes out his turf with an engaging feverishness that is all his own. Christopher Lloyd takes a relatively low-key approach to his role and does well for it, allowing for Lithgow's extravagance. Welding the pieces together is a delirious, kinetic script by Earl M. Rauch.The film, although essentially a spoof of science fiction films and comic book superheroes, remains a delightful, inventive enigma of eighties cinema. The look of the picture is quite good, and (considering it's meager budget) highly-digestible. Given that the film never found a mass audience, it is surprising that so many individuals seem to remember it as vividly, and as fondly as they do. I can only hope that after everyone has gotten their fill of a certain "galaxy far, far away", that a return to the more substantial basics of storytelling and characterization is deemed imperative. Meanwhile sit back, relax, and laugh yourself silly with a charming, 'little' film that tends to be so much more.
This is an awesome Saturday night movie!
When you watch this movie, you feel like you've dropped into the middle of a comic book. Buckaroo Banzai makes Batman look like an angst-filled amateur. This story of the neurosurgeon/test car driver/lead vocalist/experimental scientist/ comic book hero brings you into a life of a rennaisance man and his friends as they struggle to save the planet once more from total annihilation.
Personally, I really enjoyed the snippets about the off-screen lives of the characters, even if you'll never find out the true reason of why the watermelon is in the basement.
Even with all the low budget costumes and set designs, this movie makes you want to watch it again and again. Keep your eyes open for all the inside jokes and you'll be laughing for hours.
watch it again and again
Some films I watch once-- I put many comedies in this category. Though, strictly speaking this is as much Sci-Fi as it is comedy. Other movies I'll watch maybe every blue moon and rarely, a few I'll see again and again. For me, this is one of the latter. It features an intelligent yet very funny script, terrific direction, contains enough details to bear scrutiny several times without revealing them all, and carries with it some extraordinary performances by some great actors. Pay particular attention to John Lithgow as "Lord John Whorfin." Fans of films like "The Fifth Element" and "Big Trouble in Little China" will definitely enjoy Banzai. If you're looking for an intelligent comedy this is the ticket.
Exceedingly bizarre and original while derivative, campy and zany
One of my all-time favorite films that I will watch over and over again. In its time, the Rasta stuff was over-the top. For eye candy, Buckaroo and his gang are delicious. For just plain silliness, it can't be beat - well maybe it can but not in Sci Fi. Message - none. Purpose - to amuse. If you enjoy pointless fun, enjoy a great "team" sort of movie, and love sci-fi, then you will love this. It is sort of a "Red Dwarf" mixed with "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" type of movie but twisted with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid camaraderie and Bob Marleyishness "what can any of this Rasta stuff mean?" John Lithgow gives the performance that lets you know how he ended up Third Rock from the Sun. Peter Weller is great, as is the whole cast. You'll recognize many actors, who starred in this unpigeonholed film, and who have gone on to many good roles. And the director did "Big China in Little Tokyo" - another of my favorites.
Perfect for what it is...and what it is is mindbending
Look, everybody's said pretty much everything there is to say about Buckaroo, so there's not much point in adding to the froth. I just want to say it's the perfect movie for what it is -- a dizzying tribute to pulp adventure series. It's crazed, over-the-top, disorienting, metatextual, addled sci-fi-high-adventure-pop-weirdness, and as I'm sure you can tell from the other reviews, you're gonna love it...or you're gonna hate it. Give it ten minutes and if you're not sold, save yourself the next hour and change. If you ARE sold, though, you may well find this the best -- movie -- EVER.
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