Cult movies are those movies that are not huge hits with mass audiences but have a small, devoted following that keeps them from disappearing altogether. They tend to be weird, unusual little things. As it is, Gabbing Geek will be looking at a few.
We start our series with Jimmy Impossible and Tom Kelly weighing in on The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Will they like what they see? Will they be baffled? Or some combination of those? Read on…
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
tomk: So, why was there a watermelon there?
I…don’t even know what to say about this movie.
tomk: Let’s try something simple: did you like it?
jimmy: …I’m not sure.
You must have really hurt your brain from the sounds of things.
jimmy: I did feel my brain getting damaged.
tomk: OK, so what bugged you?
jimmy: I still don’t know what the plot was outside of evil Jon Lithgow needing the overthruster.
tomk: Well, Lithgow (who may have been the biggest name actor at the time the movie came out) as Dr. Emilio Lizardo in his youth punched through to the 8th dimension where he was possessed by the mind of the evil Baron John Whorfin, leader of the exiled Red Lectoids. After Buckaroo Banzai successfully completes the same experiment without being possessed by anything, Whorfin sees the possibility of rescuing all the Red Lectoids from exile, allowing them to potentially overthrow the benevolent Black Lectoids on Planet 10. If Buckaroo and his associates, those hard rocking scientists the Hong Kong Cavaliers, can’t stop Whorfin from leaving Earth in time, the Black Lectoids will be forced to destroy the Earth to save the galaxy from the evil that is the Red Lectoids.
See, simple plot.
I get it…I guess. And in the end, it probably didn’t matter.
tomk: You’ll eat those words when Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League finally comes out.
jimmy: Everything else from the 80’s is coming back…
tomk: Peter Weller ain’t gettin’ any younger.
jimmy: True. Man, there were a lot of familiar faces in this thing though.
tomk: Like Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum, and two Justice League voice actors?
jimmy: Carl Lumbly and Clancy Brown. Plus Ellen Barkin and Dan Hedaya. And apparently Jamie Lee Curtis, Yakov Smirnoff and Jonathon Banks all of whom I never really noticed. And Billy Vera who I wouldn’t recognize but know the name and his one hit wonderness.
tomk: Jamie Lee Curtis’ scenes hit the cutting room floor, so unless you got some deleted scenes, you didn’t see her. She played Buckaroo’s mother in a flashback scene.
Smirnoff was the president’s Nation Secutity Advisor.
And I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest last night, a movie which features two Red Lectoids in the form of Lloyd and Vincent Schiavelli.
I have no idea where Banks was off-hand.
jimmy: Me neither. And I meant to say Schiavelli too. And I’m glad I’m not losing my mind, I mean, how could you miss JLC?
tomk: Michael Myers has been asking that very question for years
I actually found two good video essays on this movie on YouTube. Here’s one, and it does list all the recognizable actors in the movie:
jimmy: Watching now…Banks was the security guard when Lithgow was on the phone near the beginning.
tomk: Oh. That guy.
jimmy: So, I should ask…did you like it?
tomk: Most indubitably.
Then again, I might just be a sucker for John Lithgow sticking electrodes to his tongue to jog his memory.
jimmy: I still don’t know how to feel. It’s not Krull bad. But I don’t know if it’s “so bad it’s good”. Mostly I sat there thinking “WTF am I watching?”
tomk: To be perfectly honest, that’s not a bad reaction to have.
I mean, Wes Anderson apparently is a fan of Buckaroo Banzai, and his work is very much “love it or hate it”.
jimmy: I can see how it has a cult following. The whole thing is just ridiculous…but technically well executed with good actors.
tomk: Cult movies, by definition, aren’t huge hits but often weird little things with a very small, but loyal, fanbase.
But Jimmy, at least you aren’t the weakest individual I ever know.
jimmy: Are you sure? I’m petty feeble.
tomk: At least you didn’t flip me off.
You mentioned a second good video essay?
tomk: I did. I actually liked this one a bit more, but the first one mentioned all the recognizable actors that popped up. This one at least has a narrator speaking a bit more slowly:
jimmy: …some people put way too much thought into these things.
tomk: OK, I am getting the impression you didn’t like this one very much.
jimmy: I’m still not sure. But that video makes me think “you shouldn’t need to try this hard to try to convince me it’s cool”.
tomk: That guy’s videos usually cover adaptations of Shakespeare and artsy foreign films. The fact he said anything at all to a movie that had to film its closing credits dance sequence to “Uptown Girl” because the actual music to be used wasn’t ready yet is somewhat unusual.
jimmy: Umm…what? Lol
tomk: Yup. They knew roughly how long the music was gonna be and roughly what it would sound like, but they had to film it to something, so they went with Billy Joel.
jimmy: A version set to that has to exist…
tomk: If it doesn’t, I am sure it wouldn’t take much effort to make one.
jimmy: Seems like something Jenny or Ryan could do. Too bad they’re not here.
tomk: We couldn’t even get a discount Greg.
Why do I suspect Ryan would have a lot to say about this movie? Heck, the main character in the movie version of Ready Player One dresses up as Buckaroo Banzai at one point for a virtual date.
jimmy: I still haven’t seen that yet. I’d be curious if he likes this. His taste is…somewhat suspect.
tomk: Look, I like this one. Your plot summary of “Evil John Lithgow wants Peter Weller’s overthruster” is basically all you really need to know about it in terms of plot. It’s a weird little movie with a lot of funny lines.
jimmy: It’s definitely weird. If I got anything out of that last video it’s that Buckaroo Banzai is like watching Infinity War if you hadn’t seen any of the previous MCU films. Or read any of the comics. Or even heard of superheroes.
tomk: I might have said Age of Ultron, but yes.
If Infinity War was the first movie in the MCU, it would be Buckaroo Banzai.
Provided it also had Airplane!‘s deadpan delivery style.
jimmy: So, what’s your grade? I’m gonna guess 8-8.5.
tomk: 9 actually.
I am guessing yours is a bit lower.
jimmy: So close!
I’m going to give it a 5…as I’m still very confused by the whole experience. Almost as confused as Ian Malcolm and the stray watermelon.
tomk: Hey, hey, hey, hey-now, Jimmy. Don’t be mean; we don’t have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
Well, regardless of where you are, Jimmy (my guess is Canada), this first cult film didn’t work too well for you. Let’s try a different one. A sillier one with a zippier soundtrack. How do you feel about Flash Gordon?
jimmy: I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but have been meaning to for years. I don’t know much about it outside of it likely being super campy and having a Queen soundtrack.
tomk: I think it’s time to fill in some of your cinematic gaps. We shouldn’t tug on things too hard, though. You never know what it might be attached to.
NEXT TIME: Well, it looks like the guys were split over this one between “big fan” and “weirded out but at least better than Krull“. Will they have a similar reaction to Flash Gordon? Come back soon and find out!
P.S. It does exist…