THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI
ACROSS THE EIGHTH DIMENSION
STARRING: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff
Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Carl Lumbly
1984, 103 Minutes, Directed by: W.D. Richter
Description: Peter Weller
stars as Buckaroo, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, particle physicist, and, of
course, rock star. He travels with the Hong Kong Cavaliers, a band of
hard-rocking scientists who are also really good dressers. Buckaroo's
interdimensional experiments with his Operation Overthruster throw him (and
the Earth) straight into the middle of an alien war, and before you know it,
he's got just a few hours to save the world. —
Not as much fun as its title might suggest, The
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (hereafter just referred to
as just Buckaroo Banzai, OK?)
aims for wackiness and weirdness and probably
attains it, but to be honest, it is a rather soulless piece of entertainment.
To make things worse, the plot is largely incoherent and difficult to
follow. Audiences are abruptly thrown into the action and it
feels like trying to follow a television series of which you have missed
several episodes, or walking into a movie at about the halfway mark.
Confusing, and while this may be some attempt by the
filmmakers to capture that feeling one gets from picking up issue # 42 of a
comic book series you have never read before, the net effect is just
bewildering. As the movie drags on, one finds it very difficult to
care about on-screen events.
To make things worse, more and more characters
are introduced late in the movie (Buckaroo Banzai already features
a large cast to begin with) and no time is spent on identifying the various
characters, never mind getting to know and like them! (All of them dressed
in horrendously loud 'Eighties fashions.)
While the film features some nice comic moments (as in chuckle-chuckle,
not ha-ha), it drunkenly veers between the deadpan acting of Peter Weller
who is even more mechanical than he was in Robocop
and the over-the-top John Lithgow (Third Rock from the Sun, 2010)
never finding the right tone to settle on.
Ultimately, Buckaroo Banzai is a lackluster affair
that could have been a whole lot better than it is. Apparently it has somewhat of a fervent cult
following, but I suspect that its followers are more in love with its title
than its actual content.