Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai

Cinema Monolith: 9/10 This film is part of the Cinema Monolith collection!Team Banzai
IMDb: 6.2/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: ** out of 4

Released on August 15, 1984
Rated PG
103 minutes

Directed by W.D. Richter

Written by Earl Mac Rauch

Cast: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Lewis Smith, Rosalind Cash, Robert Ito, Pepe Serna, Clancy Brown, Vincent Schiavelli, Dan Hedaya, Bill Henderson, Billy Vera, John Ashton, Yakov Smirnoff, Damon Hines, Laura Harrington

If you’re going to make a sci-fi adventure comedy that boasts a demented storyline, characters and situations that are both eccentric and cool, hilariously off-kilter dialogue, a bunch of alien creatures named John, and an extremely awesome Ford jet car, then this is definitely the way to do it. However, I’ll be the first to admit that this wonderfully goofball film may not be for all tastes; its unfortunate failure at the box office could be blamed on many things, including a non-existent ad campaign and competition from summer blockbusters. But I say it deserved a better fate than that, and thanks to cable and home video, it has since built a solid cult following, especially with me.

Peter Weller stars as Buckaroo Banzai, a scientist, neurosurgeon, and rock star who drives through a mountain and inadvertently opens a portal to the 8th dimension, allowing evil Red Lectroids to escape and infiltrate Earth. From there, Buckaroo and his Team Banzai cohorts must join forces with the benevolent Black Lectroids to stop human-turned-alien Lord John Whorfin from leading an insurgence, and…well, now I’ve said too much. Or perhaps not enough. Either way, if you happen to possess even a fraction of the half-whacked sense of humor that fans of this film have, then I think it’s worth your time to check it out.

In fact, I missed it when it was first released (it was gone from my local cinema after playing there for what seemed like five minutes), and my first viewing was the result of a Beta rental from a neighborhood video store. My brother and I actually watched it twice before returning it the next day, and it wasn’t long before I went out and bought my own Beta copy. And trust me, it only got better with each viewing, as I spotted jokes and references I’d missed previously, and relived one-liners that soon become part of my own lexicon. Actually, when I re-watched it for this review, I counted 26 quotes and comments that, at the time, my brother and friend and I used whenever a situation allowed for it.

Besides the madcap dialogue, and a plot that defied description, I thought the film had a great look to it, too. First-time director W.D. Richter delivered quite a few artistic and nicely-composed widescreen shots, and he and screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch peppered the story, sets, and props with enough information—both necessary and throwaway—to warrant repeat viewings. The cast was loaded with recognizable faces who got into the spirit of their roles and acted with serious enthusiasm, and had a great time doing it; years ago I’d read that all the main actors had offered to do a sequel for free, simply because they’d had such a blast making this one.

If you’ve got the right mindset, there’s plenty of deliciously goofy fun to be had with Buckaroo Banzai, from the aliens and their self-imposed monikers (John Bigbooté, John Smallberries, John Ya Ya) to the interplay between the members of the various teams who assist Buckaroo (The Hong Kong Cavaliers, the Blue Blaze Irregulars, the Rug Suckers) and to the absurdist comments made by John Lithgow, whose deranged Lord Whorfin was just plain off the charts. For me, that great time translated splendidly to the screen, and with so much to like and appreciate, I can’t help but give this crazy film high marks for a job well done. And remember: no matter where you go, there you are.  (9/10)


10 comments on “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

  1. Popcorn Nights

    I’ve heard mention of this a lot over the years and I’ve seen you mention it before. It has been on my Netflix list for a few months now, so I will get round to watching it at some point. I’m intrigued by the surrealism, more than anything, and so hopefully it clicks with me in the same way!


    • Todd Benefiel

      I hope it does, too, because so far I’m 1-0 with the recommendations I’ve sent your way, and I’d hate to see my average drop to .500. It’s definitely half-whacked, but for me it’s an intelligent half-whacked, and I think that’s why I have so much fun with it. Can’t wait to see your review…if your rating is anything less than 8, however…well, let’s just say I know where you live.


  2. Pingback: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) | Head In A Vice

  3. Pingback: The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension (1984) How The Blue Blazes Hadn’t I Seen This Before? – Wolfmans Cult Film Club

  4. geelw

    Heh, way back in ’84, a lot of folks didn’t “get” this flick and I recall every time I went to see it, there were people afterward wondering what the hell they had paid money for. I even remember one couple who demanded a refund because they didn’t like the ending (or the entire film, for that matter). But hey, there’s no accounting for taste, I guess?


    • Todd Benefiel

      There is no accounting for taste, that’s for sure…and it makes me wonder, what kind of ending did that couple want where they WOULDN’T have asked for a refund? (I guess they were Red Lectroid fans!) And what puzzled me at the time was hearing how so many people didn’t get it; the fact that I got it somehow made ME the weird one? The deuce you say!


  5. Reading two reviews on the same movie in one night here….. and all I can think of now is Ellen Barkin!


    • Todd Benefiel

      Actually, I think it’s that photo of Ellen’s leg that has you constantly thinking about her! And now that Mike and I have reviews of Buckaroo Banzai posted, don’t you think it’s time you and Greg did the same?

      Liked by 1 person


    By far and away a FANTASTIC FILM and now in my top 10 of favorites!!! Thanks so much for sharing Todd!!


    • Todd B

      Thanks again for watching, and way cool to hear it’s now in your Top 10! Now, on to Blade Runner!


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