“No, no, no, don’t tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to.” -Buckaroo Banzai
a Primal Root written review
He’s a rock star, neurosurgeon, mystic, nuclear physicist and the star of his own comic book series, Buckaroo Banzai (Weller) is a man of many trades. But above all, he is a man of action. Let me try and lay the story out for you to the best of my ability…which spells out trouble, really. Deep breath, here we go!
“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” drops us right in the middle of this action as Buckaroo is testing out a new jet propelled Ford Fiesta, equipped with his when he takes an unscheduled detour into the side of a mountain the side of a mountain going at speeds that break the sound barrier…and passing right through unharmed thanks to the vehicle being equipped with a piece of hardware of Buckaroo’s own design named “The Oscillation Overthruster.” However, this impromptu experiment in dimensional travel unleashes more than Buckaroo and his colleagues/ team /bandmates, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, ever imagined. Within this rock were stashed several Evil Black Lectoids from Planet 10 who have been exiled there and have now been unleashed from the 8th Dimension.
News of Buckaroo’s successful journey across the 8th Dimension spreads quickly and manages to reach Dr. Emilio Lizardo (Lithgow), whose failed Overthruster experiment in 1938 ended up leaving his body possessed by Lord John Whorfin, an evil alien creature who is compared to Adolf Hitler. See, Whorfin is the leader of the Red Lectroids, a race of reptile, alien creature who waged war against Planet 10 and were later banished to this 8th Dimension.
Still with me? Groovy.
Well, due to Lizardo’s botched overthruster experiment, and the release of Lord John Whorfin, many of these Red Lectroids pilgrimaged to earth and now work at YoYodyne Propulsion Systems posing as employees and working on a spacecraft while pretending it’s a project for the U.S. Air Force. Their plan is to rescue the remaining exiles in the 8th dimension and take over Planet 10m which is populated by the far less aggressive Black Lectroids, who threaten Earth with a fake nuclear attack which will set off World War III if Lord John Whorfin’s plans are not halted within 24 hours.
Now, the fate of the entire planet lies in the hands of Buckaroo Banzai, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, the civilian Banzai Institute volunteers known as The Blue Blazers, John Parker (the Black Lectroid messenger) and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Barkin).
As you can kind of guess, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” is one VERY convoluted, complex, whacky mess of a story. It’s a story it took a couple viewing for me just to wrap my mind around just what the Hell was happening. TAOBBAT8D never gives the audience a moment to catch it’s breath, from the very get-go TAOBBAT8D starts flinging ideas, concepts and theories at break neck speed and dares us to try and keep up with the action on screen. We and jarringly catapulted from scene to scene, character to character in a film made to play like an episode from a serial that has a long standing history with fans, only there was NOTHING that came before this and NOTHING to come after. Well, there was a sequel planned (Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League) but since the movie bombed like Hiroshima, that sequel never had a chance. So we are left with a movie that is bafflingly complex, silly and rallies against the typical dramatic structure we, as viewers, are accustom to, But all of these elements always left me exhilarated by “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’s” end credits begin rolling. You are an outsider invited to be a part of this incredibly cool cat’s latest journey. you are thrown into this wild world and either you can make the decision to hold on for dear life and enjoy the ride or throw your hands in the air and declare that this stuff makes no sense, and just walk away. If there is one major flaw in the film, it’s pretty slap dash and difficult to follow. But I have a feeling that’s by design.
One thing is certain, The Adventure’s of Buckaroo Banzai and it’s mix of action, science fiction, and comedy are not for everyone. Where some might find a lot of great concepts bubbling forth from the film;s narrative, others might find this flick more than a little tedious, which is a totally understandable view point. for me, the strength of the film lies in the fact that Buckaroo Banzai is unlike any other film ever made, or ever will be made again. It’s a high concept oddity with A.D.D. crackling under with the static of a head full of crazy ideas. To me, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is one of the coolest, strangest fucking movies ever made, and with every new viewing, I take away another level of appreciation. It’s one I don’t recommend easily. If you’re a Hong Kong Cavalier or a Blue Blazer, you will have an instinct to check this flick out for yourself. As for me? “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” holds a special place of honor in my collection.
SIDE NOTE: Also, Breaking Bad fans, watch early on for an appearance by a young Jonathan Banks (aka: Mike from TV’s Breaking Bad) as an orderly at the mental asylum where Lord John Whorfin is held.
4 out of 5 Dumpster Nuggets