Thursday, August 28, 2008

THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION (W.D. Richter, 1984, USA) A frenetically puerile comic book adventure, BUCKAROO BANZAI successfully travels across the 8th dimension of serious science fiction and campy action flick. This would make a great double feature with John Carpenter’s BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Buckaroo is a world renowned brain surgeon, race car driver, scientist, adventurer, and rock star….from New Jersey. There is really a rather intelligent and often convoluted plot involving Orson Welles and the original War of the Worlds radio broadcast, Red and black Lectroids from Planet Ten, an Oscillation Overthruster, the United States Government Weapons Program, nuclear extortion, Penny Priddy (who looks just like Buckaroo’s ex), the Radar Rangers, The Rug Suckers, The Blue Blaze Irregulars, and the Hong Kong Cavaliers. And we can’t forget Jeff Goldblum in his blazing red shirt and chaps! This audacious amalgam of genre conventions is successful because it takes itself seriously and isn’t self-referencing: there are no subtle nods or winks towards the audience to break the illusion. The actors and director play it straight with ironic humor and crosscutting suspense. The attention to set detail and characters makes this zany world seem larger than the screen; we accept that even the President is awed by this modern Renaissance Man. John Lithgow’s performance as the possessed Dr. Lizardo is gleefully berserk but perfectly within character of the demented and deranged scientist. The plot develops quickly and the catapults towards the violent conclusion leaving the audience a bit dazed and breathless not sure what to expect around the next corner. The dated synthesizer score (and wardrobe!) adds an 80’s pop culture veneer to this madcap adventure. Unfortunately, the Buckaroo Banzai sequel was never filmed: now that’s a crime! (B)

No comments: