There’s nothing like an 80’s guilty pleasure to put you back into ease of mind. And I don’t mean just the classics like Gremlins and The Goonies either. I mean some of the ignored favorites as well, like Howard the Duck (okay, it’s bad, but in a good way) and Ice Pirates (ditto…super ditto).
Then there’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a goofy comedy/sci-fi adventure that deals with Buckaroo’s (Peter Weller of Robocop fame) journey into the 8th dimension – which in turn gets the attention of the villainous Dr. Emilio Lazardo (John Lithgow) and a few ugly aliens.
Look, let’s be honest – you can’t take this film seriously. At all. The special effects are vintage 80’s. The story bounces around all over the place and leaves you wondering why Buckaroo just doesn’t punch more people. And never mind the whole romantic subplot with Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), which pretty much ends the way you’d expect from an 80’s film anyway.
Now, with that in mind, Banzai is simply a hoot. The dialogue is still quite good in spots (“It’s Bootay! TAY! TAY!”) and worth a smile, and it’s great to see so many oddball characters doing their thing. Jeff Goldblum dons a cowboy outfit and lends Buckaroo a hand wherever he can; and Christopher Lloyd, God bless him, shows up in true alien form and doesn’t hold back when it comes to calling a human “monkey boy.”
Nowadays, movies are far more serious and don’t really kick back to have fun (save for stuff like Sausage Party, of course). Buckaroo Banzai is a throwback to the good ol’ days of the 80’s, when a plot didn’t necessarily need to make sense (“What’s with the watermelon?”) and the special effects didn’t quite need to be spot on. I had fun watching director W.D. Richter’s adventure again, and chances are so will you – unless you’re watching it for the first time, in which you’re in for a treat.
Really, I enjoyed the performances. Goldblum shows his talent early as he describes a scenario with War of the Worlds; Lithgow hams it up in true villainous fashion; and Weller is an enjoyable hero that does a little too much as Banzai (rock star, surgeon, world saver, etc.) And I had a ball with the aliens too, even though I’ll never understand why you need to wear a tin foil mask to see a hologram. Perhaps a precursor to virtual reality…?
Despite some cheesy looking effects, Shout! Factory did a splendid job with the movie’s picture, representing it in 2:35:1 with solid results. There’s very little negativity about the picture here, save for its obvious aged film technology. And the sound is excellent too, with the audio and voicework coming through crystal clear. Plus, those Hong Kong Cavaliers still know how to rock.
Now where Buckaroo Banzai on Blu-Ray earns its keep is with the extras. There’s a full-length documentary here called Into the 8th Dimension that digs deep into every aspect of the film, from the casting to the visual effects to the production. It’s fantastic, and well worth the time of true fans and those interested in how an 80’s film got put together. I just wish Goldblum and Barkin came back for interviews – they’re no shows here. There’s also a pair of audio commentaries, one featuring director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch, and another with Michael and Dennis Okuda. Both are worth a listen.
The second disc has a small but enjoyable declassified featurette, along with an alternative opening, deleted scenes, a jet car trailer and a theatrical trailer. Why it’s a DVD instead of a Blu-Ray is beyond me, but these extras are noteworthy.
If you’re a fan of Buckaroo Banzai (and, like me, wondering just what the heck happened to the promised sequel), then you’ll enjoy Shout! Factory’s engaging treatment of the 80’s film, and its wonderful extras. The only thing missing is a Hong Kong Cavaliers soundtrack, but chances are you can probably just hum along to your own.
When it comes to getting to the store and buying this, all you should say is, “Feet, do your stuff!”