THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI (ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION) is the most insane movie ever made and for many a Blue Blazer Irregular inarguably the greatest movie ever made!
That is, if you like pulp sci-fi, lunacy and uber-meta-reference to a self-aware universe that exist only in the framework of this 1984 cult classic.
“Watching ”The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” from beginning to end is like coming into the middle chapters of some hilariously over plotted, spaced-out 1930’s adventure serial, neither the beginning nor the end of which ever comes into sight,” New York Times reviewer Vincent Canby enthusiastically wrote of the far-out flick.
Created by Earl Mac Rauch and director W.D Richter, Buckaroo (played straight-faced by the irrepressible Peter Weller) is a particle physicist, neurosurgeon, musician, inventor and adventurer who is assisted by his faithful followers, the “hard rocking” Hong Kong Cavaliers.
Inspired by the classic 1930s pulp yarns of Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze, who was billed as “Superman” long before Kal-El had his Fortress of Solitude, BUCKAROO BANZAI (shortened here for brevity, thank you) is the ultimate meta-experience. Not only is he out to break the dimensional barrier in his Jet Car powered by his very own Oscillation Overthruster, Buckaroo is also the star of his own comic series and video games which can be seen throughout the film in throwaway gags.
Without giving too much away to the uninitiated, “Remember, no matter where you go there you are…”
After accidentally opening a cross dimensional portal, spaced-out invaders arrive in Grover Mills, N. J. – the very same night Orson Welles makes his famous WAR OF THE WORLDS 1938 broadcast. Was he hypnotized to forget the real event?
Unable to get home, these evil Lectroids all adopt earth identities and the same first name. These miscreants operate out of Yoyodyne Propulsions, the number one military defense contractor. Their insane leader is red-haired madman Lord John Whorfin who now possesses the body of Dr. Emil Lizardo played with delectable relish by John Lithgow with a Mussolini-like fervor. “This isn’t our planet – monkey boy!” he snarls.
When Buckaroo zaps through a mountain in the Jet Car, he inadvertently incurs the wrath of the Black Lectroids from Planet 10, who order Team Banzai, to stop Dr. Lizardo and his Yoyodyne pals from returning home. If not, the “good aliens” will vaporize the Earth without hesitation. By the way, that is far more exposition than the film itself which unfolds at breakneck speed – by way of Monty Python. The story unfolds at light speed with only glimpses of a back story – no time to waste – as “Evil! Pure and simple from the 8th Dimension!” is afoot.
Assisted by Team Banzai including Jeff Goldblum as new recruit New Jersey and Lewis Smith as Perfect Tommy, The Blue Blazer Irregulars (Buckaroo’s team of ever ready everymen) and the spitting image of his dead wife Penny Priddy, Buckaroo, pulls the fat out of the extraterrestrial fire.
A box office failure upon its releaser thanks to a studio that had no idea how to market it (and corrupt studio head David Begelman), BUCKAROO BANZAI later achieved cult classic thanks to its legion of dedicated fans. http://www.banzai-institute.com/
“BUCKAROO BANZAI (is) a realm full of limitless potential,” director W.D. Richter said. “The 1984 film …is only a fraction of the Banzai-world. Even within the film itself there are references to the Banzai realm existing beyond the movie. There is a lot more mythology beyond what’s seen in the movie.”
A never-made sequel BUCKAROO BANZAI AGAINST THE WORLD CRIME LEAGUE has long prompted rumors that the script was re-tooled as a vehicle for Kurt Russell in John Carpenter’s BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. W.D. Richter confirmed he only performed a rewrite on the script, receiving credit for an “adaptation” but it is NOT a BB retread.
Fanboy/director Kevin Smith recently announced he was plotting a new BUCKAROO BANZAI TV series but that too was fated for oblivion when it was learned he had failed to secure the rights, igniting a legal war.
Someday, some incarnation of Buckaroo may return but in the meantime, there ain’t nothing like the real thing…baby.