This week’s ‘So Bad It’s Good’ is a film so very awful, its awesome: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. If you are not familiar with this gem, please allow me to illuminate you. Made in 1984, this film stars Peter Weller (Robocop) as a neurosurgeon/ particle physicist named Buckaroo Banzai who, along with his scientist rock band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, saves the world from aliens.
After changing the world of science by passing through solid rock unharmed, Buckaroo ignites an alien uprising and gains the ability to see the aliens in their true forms. To the average human eye, the bad aliens take on the appearance of creepy characters like John Lithgow, and Vincent Schiavelli, (aka the can kicking subway ghost from Ghost.) The good aliens, who aim to help Buckaroo, take the form of Rastafarians. All the aliens have the same “let’s be human” name: John, with last names ranging from Parker to Smallberries. Christopher Lloyd is particularly good as the evil John Bigboote (pronounced big-booty). Did I mention that this all takes place in New Jersey? Need I say more? No, but I will.
Equally as awesome as the plot of Buckaroo Banzai are the characters. Key members of Buckaroo’s squad/rock band are Jeff Goldblum as a cowboy called New Jersey (why? I truly have no idea), and a Billy Idol look-a-like, Perfect Tommy, who indeed does seem perfect. Early in the movie, Buckaroo finds his love interest, Penny Priddy, played by Ellen Barkin. When they meet at his concert, she is crying in the crowd and he consoles her with the wise words, “remember, no matter where you go, there you are.” Penny seems to always find trouble and actually turns out to be Buckaroo’s dead wife’s long-lost twin sister. It really is a small world (with aliens).
Without doubt the best part of the movie is the end credit scene. Buckaroo is walking through some random large open space, which looks strikingly like Thunder Road. As he walks, other characters, including those who’d died, join him. They basically walk and dance as the group grows and the characters magically change outfits. It’s strangely heartwarming and the perfect ending to a ridiculous movie.
So, if you have the time and feel like being amazed, pick up Buckaroo Banzai and always remember: “no matter where you go, there you are.”
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