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The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The Eighth Dimension
USA 1984
Directed by W.D.Richter
Running time 103 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars


With an offbeat script by Earl McRauch (he wrote the original script for New York, New York as well as Howard Zieff's Slither and Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon) a tip-top cast, many who have since become well-known Hollywood names and, for its small budget, effective realization, Buckeroo Banzai is a cult comedy par excellence, effectively described by Ellen Barkin who plays Penny Priddy as what would have been "if Terry Southern had written Star Wars”.

The ultra-cool Dr. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a physicist, neurosurgeon, rock musician, and all-round super-hero hero who has to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from Planet 10. To do this he must vanquish his crazed opponent, Dr. Emilio Lizardo aka Lord John Whorfin (a stand-out performance from John Lithgow) and his henchmen who are posing as employees of a defence contracting company,Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. Christopher Lloyd as John Big Booty ("that's Big Bootay") and Jeff Goldblum as Banzai's cowboy-fetishizing colleague round out the main cast with the incomparable Vincent Schiavelli as John O’Connor.

The first feature for director Richter who up to that point had been a screenwriter with movies as diverse as Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Brubaker to his credit, in the kind of mad-cap flight of fantasy that so often can fall flat on its face (compare the 1986 George Lucas-produced turkey, Howard The Duck), this is an inventive, amusing film delivered with considerable élan.

FYI: During the end credits there is a screen title proclaiming the upcoming sequel Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League which was never made although Banzai has continued his adventures in various novelizations, comics and computer games. Richter has only directed one film since this ,1991's Late For Dinner.

 

 

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