Metascore
47

Mixed or average reviews - based on 13 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 13
  2. Negative: 4 out of 13
  1. 100
    Everything about Pee-wee's Big Adventure, from its toy-box colors to its superb, hyperanimated Danny Elfman score to the butch-waxed hairdo and wooden-puppet walk of its star and mastermind, Pee-wee Herman, is pure pleasure.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    88
    Inspired lunacy, Pee-wee's big adventure is one of the most inventive films in recent memory. This clever and wholly original work incorporates a wide variety of cinematic tools with a fresh and unique sense of style.
  3. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    80
    Burton's first feature revels in the weird, the unpredictable, the infantile and the absurd. A dazzling debut.
  4. Reviewed by: Llyod Sachs
    75
    Pee-wee's Big Adventure goes up and down the hills of Pee-wee shtick, without much concern for things like cohesiveness and consistency. What makes it wear so well is the balance achieved between Pee-wee's nitwit nervousness and his pathetic optimism. [12 Aug 1985, p.35]
  5. I'm completely unsure what else Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is about. I can tell you that 70 percent of moviegoers in their 20s and 30s will likely find this crazy production to be a barrel of fun, and frequently a barrel of laughs. A certain intelligence peeks through it all. [9 Aug 1985, p.68]
  6. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    Pee- wee's Big Adventure is a shrewdly observed, deftly executed looney tune. [9 Aug 1985, p.42]
  7. 70
    With all these safety features built in, this 1985 film is too well padded to qualify as genuinely radical wit, but in an even-toned, TV sort of way it's mildly amusing and inventive throughout.
  8. If Pee-Wee wasn't the most engaging physical comedian since Dick Van Dyke, it would be disastrous. As it is, the opening works well enough to have viewers completely hooked by the time he sets out on the road, like Huck Finn, with his clothes wrapped up in a handerchief on a stick. [10 Aug 1985, p.E9]
  9. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    60
    Children should love the film and adults will be dismayed by the light brushstrokes with which Paul Reubens (one of three credited screenwriters, but star-billed under his stage name, Pee-wee Herman) suggests touches of Buster Keaton and Eddie Cantor.
  10. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is the most barren comedy I've seen in years, maybe ever.
  11. Reviewed by: Staff (Not Credited)
    10
    This movie could induce terminal boredom in adults and rot the minds of the young. [26 August 1985, p.64]
  12. The movie has the cartoonish realism of a Muppet movie. However, Mr. Herman is no Kermit the Frog, although he made me feel like Oscar the Grouch. [13 Aug 1985, p.1]
  13. 0
    Nothing, absolutely nothing, at either location is the slightest bit funny. [13 Sep 1985, p.C]
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 36 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 3
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 3
  3. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. Aug 11, 2011
    10
    I find it astonishing that this film, Tim Burton's directorial debut Pee-wee's Big Adventure, has such a low score here at Metacritic. Although I'm not the biggest fan of Burton's style and find his work to be mostly overrated, this movie is a masterpiece of camp that led to one of the greatest 'children's shows' of all-time, Pee-Wee's Playhouse. The deadpan humor never gets old.. Full Review »
  2. May 12, 2012
    8
    I find it so funny. This movie has a different style compared to most comedies. Overall, the story here is thin ice, but the humor is great.
  3. Jun 22, 2013
    7
    A fun filled adventure that just proves you don't come between a man and his bike. A solid start in the very mixed directorial career of Mr. Tim Burton. Full Review »