Pee-Wee Herman is going on another big adventure! Variety is reporting that producer Judd Apatow is teaming up with actor Paul Reubens for a new film featuring the iconic character. Reubens recently resurrected the Pee-Wee persona for a series of stage shows in Los Angeles and Apatow’s interest was piqued after attending one of those performances:
“Let’s face it, the world needs more Pee-wee Herman… I am so excited to be working with Paul Reubens — who is an extraordinary and groundbreaking actor and writer. It’s so great to watch him return with such relevance.”
Reubens will co-write the script with actor/writer/stand-up comedian Paul Rust. The plot description is very vague at this point but it’s apparently “a road pic built around a gigantic adventure.”
Reubens developed the character of Pee-Wee with the help of Phil Hartman while both were members of the Groundlings comedy troupe. After a cameo appearance in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Reubens decided to take the character to the stage and developed The Pee-Wee Herman Show. It debuted at the Groundlings theatre and was later moved to The Roxy Theatre to accommodate larger crowds. During its run at The Roxy, HBO filmed one of the performances and released it as a special which helped push Pee-Wee’s popularity to new heights.
Reubens began making frequent appearances as Pee-Wee on Late Night with David Letterman and not long after Hollywood came calling. 1985’s Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was the directorial debut of Tim Burton and a huge box office hit. The success of the film lead to the Saturday morning children’s program Pee-Wee’s Playhouse which ran for five years. While the original stage show had featured humor that was more adult in nature, the film and television series introduced the more widely known kid-friendly version of Pee-Wee.
The change in tone was certainly a lucrative decision for Reubens, but being known predominantly as a children’s entertainer made his 1991 arrest for indecent exposure all the more damaging to his career. The Pee-Wee character wasn’t dusted off until late last year when Reubens brought him back to the stage.
This might be presumptuous on my part but given Apatow’s past projects and the fact that the current stage show is more in line with the original incarnation of Pee-Wee, it seems probable that this new film will be geared more towards adults than kids. Apatow hits more often than he misses and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure still makes me laugh so I think this is great news. I’m very excited to see what these two can come up with. There’s also no way it could possibly be any worse than Big Top Pee-Wee (I was seven years old when my dad took me to see that and I left the theater mad at the world).
What do you think of a Judd Apatow produced Pee-Wee Herman movie? Which version of the character do you prefer and are you ready to see him back on the big screen?