Reel Geek’s Retro Review: The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai

The 1980s was a really weird time, like really weird.  It was one of the more awesome decades of the 20th Century, and perhaps in all of human existence.  It also was a time when, post George Lucas starting out Star Wars in the middle of a story, other filmmakers tried to capture that magic again by essentially making sequel movies to movies that didn’t exist.

The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai was one such movie.  It’s full title is The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, and part of it’s whole premise is that there have been many adventures before this one we see here, and there will be many more adventures to come, that we never have gotten to see yet, unfortunately.  This, Across the 8th Dimension, was just one such adventure.

This cult classic starred Peter Weller (Robocop) as Buckaroo Banzai, a genius brain surgeon/scientist/adventurer/rock star/comic book hero who, along with his team/band The Hong Kong Cavaliers, rocks towns across the world and also saves it.  And in this case, the world needs to be saved from Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) , a once normal scientist driven insane from possession by an alien from the 8th Dimension during an early test of what would become Buckaroo Banzai’s Rocket Car.

Lizardo, along with his other Red Lectroid compatriots is trying to get back to the 10th Planet where they were exiled from, and if Buckaroo and his team can not stop them, the world will end.

I’ve only seen this movie twice in my lifetime, once, after finally finding it on vhs when I was in high school, and again last night, after discovering this movie is streaming on Hulu.   Both times it made an impact on me, and it’s definitely a movie worth checking out.      It’s a very odd movie, with a great cast, including Clancy Brown (Highlander) , Christopher Lloyd, and Jeff Goldblum.    It’s got quotable dialogue, a bizarre plot, and great characters.  It’s a fun movie.

What always leaves me feeling slightly disappointed with the movie is that it could have been a better movie if Peter Weller had more charisma as the lead character.  As a rock star/brain surgeon/scientist/adventurer, you’d expect this guy to be super charismatic, and fun.  But Peter Weller’s deadpan portrayal of the character always reminds me of why I only watch this movie once every 20 years or so.    The deadpan works at times in the film,  but I wish there was more to his portrayal.  This movie  did show me why he made the best Robocop though, his acting is very mechanical.

Maybe one day we’ll get a remake of this cult classic, or maybe they could just cut straight to the never made sequel Buckaroo Banzai vs The World Crime League, and have a more charismatic actor in the lead role.   As it stands we only have this one.  If it seems like I’m conflicted about this movie I am.  There are elements of this movie I absolutely love, and I love how terrifically 80s it is, but it’s also kind of boring at times too, like check your watch level boring.     But when it’s fun, it’s really fun.    So in the end I’ll say that The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai is a movie worth watching at least once, but it’s not the best movie ever.

Final Grade: C-

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