Review: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Best Bad Quote:
“Laugh-a while you can, monkey-boy.”
Imagine Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon had a lovechild, and it was one of those kids that farts every time it laughs and you can’t help but find it adorable. That my friends, is The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension in a nutshell. Buckaroo Banzai is a quintessential cult classic, sci-fi/action adventure movie that is considered by many, including myself, to be an underrated classic.
Not many main characters can pull off being a physicist/neurosurgeon/rock musician, but Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) manages to multitask with the best of them as demonstrated by his invention of the oscillation overthruster, which allows him the ability to travel through solid matter into the 8th Dimension. Aliens from Planet 10, known as the Red Lectroids, are after the overthruster in their pursuits of galactic domination. The Red Lectroids are led by Italian physicist Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow), who in the 8th dimension is known as Lord Whorfin, who will do whatever it takes to get his hands on the overthruster. Dr. Banzai and his rock band/fellow scientists, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, with a little help from Penny Priddy (who just happens to be the long lost twin sister of Banzai’s late wife), must, at all costs, stop The Red Lectroids.
This movie is just plain crazy. They create this world where halfway through you realize that nothing will seem too outlandish anymore. There is no doubt this movie was fully geared towards a geek audience, which undoubtedly has spawned a fanboy or two costumes at the annual Comic Con in San Diego. But whereas Star Trek or Bladerunner try to legitimize their far-fetched plot developments, Banzai just wants you to come along for the ride. There are some stellar performances but none better than Lithgow as the maniacal Dr. Lizardo, a role that’s a tad more over-the-top than his recent character on the Showtime hit show, Dexter. The simultaneously best and most frustrating part of Banzai is that they make allusions to other plot lines never presented to the audience in the movie as if this is one episode in a franchise. The movie did not fare well enough at the box office to necessitate a sequel however. In the age of remakes and sequels, I appreciate the lack of sequel that most assuredly would have ruined the good, or bad, name of the original.
I would say this is a movie you can turn your brain off of during, but in reality, in order to follow the various plot points, you kind of have to put your thinking caps on. Although, if under the influence of the appropriate substances, plot is the last thing you’ll need to worry about. There’s enough VFX porn to satisfy any fan of cheesy sci-fi films.
3 out of 5 Electrocuted John Lithgows