Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984)

Alex at Film Forager lists this as one of her favourite films of all time and since she told me about it on the Sci-Fi chapter of my DVD guide I've been dying to watch it. Check out this trailer and tell me you're not intrigued.

I can't even think how to summarise this film; Buckaroo Banzai is a rock star, Buckaroo Banzai is a genius neurosurgeon, Buckaroo Banzai is a superhero with his own line of comic books and arcade machines, Buckaroo Banzai has a band called The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo Banzai has a sidekick (Jeff Goldblum) who dresses like a gay cowboy. Buckaroo Banzai has to save the world from evil beings from the 8th dimension.

This movie was in turns ridiculous, genius, hilarious, weird and cool. A band of genius rock stars dressed in super cool 80's attire running around saying absurd things whilst being chased by a bunch of guys in aliens masks and blue tailored suits. What's not to love?

It's a low budget sci-fi comedy with a superb cast of character actors putting in great performances. Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai, John Lithgow as a bad guy with a comedy Italian accent, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, Dan Hedaya, Vincent Schiavelli and Clancy Brown are all delightfully playful throughout and campy when needed.

The special effects are excellent for the budget. I've seen terrible special effects from movies with higher budgets and these guys knew their limitations, creating ingenious solutions to problems (sea shells as space ships?!) At no point do these film makers treat the audience like idiots and they pitch the movie perfectly; a blend of camp, surreal, intelligent science fiction that isn't taking itself very seriously.

And the Buckaroo Banzai theme will just stick in your head for days. You may not love this movie but my gosh is it a fun watch that will actually make you think/feel/respond to it rather than lull you in to a coma like a lot of movies would like to.

Edit - further readings on Buckaroo Banzai:
Film Forager Review


  1. Well the title simple rolls off the tongue, which is nice!!

    Although I am not sure I would watch it the cast is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing Toby!!

    And I guess you really can't beat shoulder pads and 80s fashion, maybe I should give it a go

  2. Good post Toby, this is one of my cult favorites. I just can't describe how much I enjoy that incredible ending dance sequence.

  3. hey custard - you're right, i should have mentioned that, this movie isn't for everyone, it's a bit odd in fact. with you schedule mate i'd probably say save your time for something worth an 8 or 9 rather than a fun 7 like this.

    bt - i don't think i knew this about you, nice. that ending is so joyous and encapsulates the entire film so well, i wish there was sequel. my favourite part of the ending was the inexplicable wardrobe change for perfect part way through the dance.

  4. I remember watching The Life Aquatic with my friends and when the ending came up, I said "Buckaroo Banzai!" and was saddened that nobody knew what I was talking about... and yeah, its unfair to tease about a sequel like that and not deliver.

  5. Yes! Great post, Toby. This is definitely one of the weirdest, most memorable films I've ever seen, which is why I love it. Definitely recommend the even-weirder b/w space musical THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT if you liked this one. Catchy theme for that one too!

  6. bt - i don't remember life aquatic much, except i was quite bored. is there a theme song dance at the end also?

    alex - it's the musical aspect thats putting me off with the american astronaut. i just cant get past my sour faced reaction to musicals no matter what the movie.

  7. Mm I see, that's cool musicals aren't everyone's thing but I love them! You might want to avoid the link to Hartley's film "Opera No. 1" I just put on your other post, then, since that's a musical short.

  8. alex - i just finished watching opera no.1, it was extremely enjoyable and could only have worked as a musical piece. but if it had gone on any longer i would've had trouble! adrienne shelley is simply adorable. and i've thought parker posey was pretty cool in a quirky way since i saw josie and the pussycats.

  9. Toby - yes, The Life Aquatic had a couple minutes long walking sequence at the end, and it included Jeff Goldblum, who was in Buckaroo Banzai.

    It's strange that I have seen multiple reviews for Buckaroo Banzai in the last few days. When I reviewed it a few months back I felt it was this really small cult movie that had faded into obscurity. I guess it stuck in other people's heads. too.