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'Pee-wee's Big Holiday': EW review

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Glen Wilson/Netflix

Pee-wee's Big Holiday

Current Status:
In Season
90 minutes
Wide Release Date:
Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox
John Lee
Adventure, Comedy

We gave it a B-

It’s been 31 years since Paul Reuben’ alter ego, that irrepressible imp in a red bow tie and gray suit two sizes too small, starred in the wonderfully whacked-out Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Superficially, he hasn’t aged a day (maybe it’s all the kabuki makeup and sugared cereal). Too bad the same can’t be said of his high jinks in the slightly musty Netflix original Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. A lot of us have really missed Pee-wee, and seeing him go through his fun-house morning regimen at the outset of the film is a giddy treat. It’s like catching up with an old friend. But nostalgia gets you only so far. And as Reubens and Paul Rust’s hit-and-miss script takes our man-child hero from his sleepy hometown to Manhattan to attend his new BFF Joe Manganiello’s birthday party, it becomes a smudgy Xerox of Pee-wee’s first road trip with Tim Burton three decades ago. There are still a few twisted bits of lunacy, like when he fascinates the Amish with a squeaky-balloon symphony. But most of this Holiday feels too flat and airless. B–