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Bikes on Film

By Jeff Guerrero

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is perhaps the greatest bicycle movie ever made. Writer, actor and comedian, Paul Reubens co-wrote the 1985 action-comedy with legendary comedian Phil Hartman and Michael Varhol. The film stars the unforgettable Elizabeth Daily as PeeWee’s love interest, Dotty, the bike mechanic. Milton Berle, Morgan Fairchild and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister also make appearances. Perhaps most notable of all, the film was director Tim Burton’s first full-length movie, and featured a soundtrack by the one and only Danny Elfman (who wrote The Simpsons theme).

What makes Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure such a relevant cycling classic is the age-old theme of a man’s love for his bicycle. Of all his eccentric gadgets and eclectic belongings, Pee-Wee’s most prized possession is a highly customized Schwinn DX. The film opens with a fantastic dream sequence in which Pee-Wee wins the Tour de France aboard “the best bike in the whole world.”

Pee-Wee goes to great lengths to ensure his bike’s security. His precious steed resides in a secret chamber hidden behind the hedges in his back yard. And his futuristic panniers hold enough chain to lock an army of bicycles. Unfortunately for Pee-Wee, U-locks weren’t in vogue during the heyday of BMX, and his bike gets stolen during a routine trip to Chuck’s Bike-O-Rama.

The theft sends Pee-Wee on a cross-country journey in search of his bike, and the adventure that ensues is the stuff of legend. In addition to a host of comedic escapades, the trip lets viewers travel vicariously to such famous locations as The Alamo and roadside attractions like The Cabazon Dinosaurs. Pee-Wee’s search eventually lands him in Hollywood, where he gets caught reclaiming his stolen bike (a plot similarity that’s often compared to the Italian classic The Bicycle Thief).

If you’ve never seen Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, you owe it to yourself to rent this cult classic.