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Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Album Cover Art
1986 Varèse
2011 Warner
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Co-Orchestrated and Co-Conducted by:
Lennie Neihaus

Co-Conducted by:
John Coleman

Co-Orchestrated by:
Steve Bartek
Labels Icon
Varèse Sarabande
(May 6th, 1986)

Warner Brothers Records
(April 12th, 2011)
Availability Icon
The 1986 Varèse re-recording (paired with Elfman's Back to School) was a regular commercial release. It was still available at affordable prices upon the release of the limited, $500 Warner set of 2011. Consult with the separate review of that set for more details about its availability.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the vintage Varèse Sarabande CD if you seek an affordable, competent re-recording of the unquestionably memorable and affably zany score that launched Danny Elfman's orchestral career.

Avoid it... on the 2011 Elfman/Burton 25th anniversary set unless you absolutely require all of the available film versions of this score, strangely assembled with some of the Varèse re-recordings into a presentation with intellectual merits but challenges to casual enjoyment.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 5/26/11
Pee-wee's Big Adventure: (Danny Elfman) There is unfortunately no way anybody outside of the Pee-wee Herman cult following can look back at Paul Reubens and his Pee-wee phenomenon in the 1980's without filtering the concept through the cautious lens of skepticism regarding perversion. Reubens' act as Pee-wee Herman had been immensely successful on television, the popularity of "The Pee-wee Herman Show" leading to multiple feature films, supplemental appearances on TV, and even live acts. Whereas cynical adults regarded the grown man's child-like act as quirky as best, Herman generated a massively loyal following with kids and like-minded adults, yielding significant profitability involving the character in most of his endeavors. By the early 1990's, however, Reubens' arrest on public masturbation charges and the subsequent rangy police mugshot caused a sensation that launched his skeptics (and late-night comics) into "I told you so" rants about the perverted nature of Herman and Reubens. To make matters worse, he was involved in a child pornography case in 2002 that cemented that perception for much of the public. While Reubens has claimed only to be a fan of vintage erotica of an unusual nature, none of it has actually been proven to be what many had feared, and he was eventually able to resurrect Pee-wee Herman on Broadway in the late 2000's. His first feature film came in 1985, when Warner Brothers gave both Herman and obscure illustrator and director Tim Burton their big breaks. Burton's unique sensibilities immediately gained its own following, carrying over fiscal success from Pee-wee's Big Adventure to Beetlejuice in 1988. The breakneck pace of the Herman universe merged well with Burton's knack for the bizarre, and although the studio had originally sought to hire a proven comedy composer like Elmer Bernstein for Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo had one of those "destiny" encounters with Burton and Reubens that won him the job. They were aware and appreciative of Elfman's act as part of Oingo Boingo, though it remained to be known whether Elfman could handle an orchestral score that was much more complicated than anything the musician had written for his band. A part of the unfinished movie had been viewed against Bernard Herrmann's score for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, which was surprisingly effective in this context. This was unknown to Elfman, who, in his interview with Burton and Reubens, per chance happened to mention that the same piece from Herrmann's score (the skeleton duel) was among his personal favorites in the history of film music. And just like that, a collaboration was born.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.88 Stars
***** 128 5 Stars
**** 53 4 Stars
*** 32 3 Stars
** 27 2 Stars
* 24 1 Stars
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Simple and Fun
Beyond El Mar - June 25, 2011, at 3:30 p.m.
1 comment  (1002 views)

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1986 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 33:45
Pee-wee's Big Adventure:
• 1. Overture/The Big Race (3:07)
• 2. Breakfast Machine (2:36)
• 3. Park Ride (1:14)
• 4. Stolen Bike (1:44)
• 5. Hitchhike (0:56)
• 6. Dinosaur Dream (0:48)
• 7. Simone's Theme (1:35)
• 8. Clown Dream (1:58)
• 9. Studio Chase (1:24)
• 10. The Drive-In (2:02)
• 11. Finale (3:12)
• 12. Overture (2:12)
Back to School:
• 13. "Do Not Go Gently..." (1:07)
• 14. The Brawl (0:52)
• 15. Action Medley (1:28)
• 16. Classroom Secretary (1:01)
• 17. Triple Lindy (2:03)
• 18. Love Suite (2:28)
• 19. Study Montage (2:00)
2011 Warner Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 51:17

Notes Icon
The inserts of both albums include minimal information about the film and score. The 2011 Warner set features some notes from Elfman about his choices of music for inclusion on the product.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Pee-wee's Big Adventure are Copyright © 1986, 2011, Varèse Sarabande, Warner Brothers Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/26/11 (and not updated significantly since).
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