Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure: Nostalgia in Troubling Times

Intro by Maria

I don’t really know how to write an introduction for this next episode. Right now we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and it seems weird to just sit down and write an introduction without mentioning this and how fucking weird life has become. So, yeah, life is pretty weird right now, and it’s pretty scary. And as one of the hosts of a podcast about mental health, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how this is affecting my mental health, and how I’m sure it’s affecting everyone’s mental health. I’m anxious. I’m scared. I’m frustrated. I’m exhausted. And although I’d love to sit here for two more minutes and complain all about it, I’m not going to, because I want you guys to listen to this episode, and I want it to be a good experience. Because we’re all going to be held up in our houses for a while, and maybe listening to a podcast on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is your only interaction with a human voice all day and it makes you feel a little less lonely—I don’t know. I just know I’ll probably be listening to more podcasts, because it seems like it’s going to be forever until we are out of this thing, so we have to find ways to enjoy ourselves. 

And so now that I’ve addressed the current situation that we are in, let me try to give you a summary of the movie and the episode.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which came out in 1985 and was Tim Burton’s first feature length film, is about someone named Pee-wee Herman, eccentric child-like adult who has a really cool bike. That bike is Pee-wee’s whole world, so when it gets stolen one day, he goes on a quest to find the culprit. And so begins his adventure where he meets all kinds of characters along the way, blah blah blah, he eventually gets his bike back. It’s a movie that I love, that I watch still to this day, and it’s a movie I’ll never stop quoting. It’s nostalgic for me, and during the episode we talk about this and how nostalgia relates to mental health.

If you’ve never seen the movie, you should turn this off and go watch it immediately! Or not. You can keep listening. But if you have seen this movie, then get ready to go on an adventure as we discuss our favorites scenes, unforgettable lines, and the creepiness of Large Marge—all on the next episode of Peculiar Picture Show.

Show Notes

Overall Thoughts: Pee-Wee Herman is an iconic character with an interesting history

B: Pee-wee originally an “adult” character; Reubens was passionate about Pee-Wee and worked for years to make this character a thing

M: 35th anniversary show where Paul Reubens talked about making the movie

Like: Good fun for everyone

B: Two scenes really show Paul Reuben’s passion: the basement evidence scene and the biker bar scene

M: It’s funny, hilarious—just a fun movie

Dislike: A children’s movie, but Paul Reubens still has some undeserved hate

B: Can’t fault a child’s movie for not being an adult movie

M: Can’t say anything bad about the film; people unfortunately still have some negative perceptions of Paul Reubens, which is sad and unwarranted

Mental Health: Nostalgia used to be a diagnosed mental illness

B: Nostalgia was, at one point, a diagnosable psychological disorder, although it’s now seen as a valid coping mechanism for difficult times. Unfortunately, some politicians are using nostalgia as a dirty marketing method with great success.

M: Nothing


B: I guess that’s my only qualm with it is I, as a 38-year-old man, am not really the target audience of this film. I can’t fault the film for that. It’s not like every movie is going to be made for a 38-year-old man, although, realistically, a lot of movies are—probably too many.

B: By the 17th century, nostalgia was considered a psychological disorder. The term was coined in 1688 by a Swiss doctor, Johannes Hofer, who called it a ‘neurological disease of essentially demonic cause.’ There were diagnosed cases, and most of these cases were among people who had served in war.

B: Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, nostalgia was actually one of the most studied disorders in Europe. Today, people talk about anxiety and depression—in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was nostalgia. That was the big thing.

Next Movie

Our next film will be the 1986 Spike Lee film, She’s Gotta Have It.

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