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

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), directed by W.D. Richter.


Mission Control: Buckaroo, the White House wants to know is everything ok with the alien space craft from Planet 10 or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?

Buckaroo Banzai: Tell him yes on one and no on two.

Mission Control: Which one was yes, go ahead and destroy Russia... or number 2?

When human experimentation releases moronic Red Lectroids trapped in the 8th Dimension, the rasta-like Black Lectroids of Planet 10 aren't having it. The always heavily armed Team Banzai has just a few hours to frustrate the plans of Dr. Emilio Lizardo -- who is possessed by Lord John Whorfin -- or it's curtains for the entire Earth.

And you know: it's always one damn thing after another. Super-genius Buckaroo Banzai has just discovered the twin sister of his dead wife, previously murdered by the head of the World Crime League. Love blooms again. Rescue her, save the Earth and get the band on the road again.

We were nuts about this when it was in the theater and have been quoting it ever since. The reviews were kind but somewhat befuddled about being dropped into an adventure with a huge backstory and no explanation, requiring the viewer to hit the ground running.

Well, yeah.

This was "meta" before it was cool. Superheroes who are actually pretty normal apart from intelligence, skills and warm loyalty to each other. They produce their own Buckaroo Banzai comic books and have a tour bus for their band which doubles as the World Watch One command center.

The conceit is attractive: these people come from truck stops and cheap lounges scattered across Nowhere USA. Any sincere viewer might imagine themselves as a Blue Blazer Irregular and part of the family. The plot summary sounds silly but is actually engaging, compared to something like Flash Gordon (1980), which is all silliness.

Great cast and abundant goofy charm. Ellen Barkin again: I'm on a binge.

Special effects and set dressing are pretty much hand-made and lots of fun to watch.

One criticism would be that the political satire with the President and his staff goes on too long.

(An aside: what is with the initials "P.P." for female sidekicks in fantasy adventure films? Barkin is Penny Priddy and her sister was Peggy Priddy. Gwyneth Paltrow is Pepper Potts in the Iron Man films and was Polly Perkins in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow).

The old special edition DVD has a lot of nice extras, but the video quality needs an upgrade. I see some Blu-ray imports are available, and a new Arrow Blu-ray appears in the UK in July 2015.

A commentary track on the DVD has the director with writer Earl Mac Rauch pretending that this is a filmed docu-drama of real events, with actors portraying their real counterparts. Rauch is supposed to be the real "Reno".