With one of the longest movie titles in cinematic history, and one of the most unique heroes to ever grace the silver screen, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (hereafter Buckaroo Banzai) is a film that has so much going for it, but initially didn’t find the same audience that many other science fiction features of the '80s did, namely the Star Wars sequels. Its failure led to the shuttering of Sherwood Films and the proposed sequel, which is mentioned at the movie’s end, never came to fruition. Years later, however, the film developed a cult following, and talks of bringing it back have been swirling for years - most recently in the form of a television series backed by Clerks director Kevin Smith. But legal issues have killed that project for the time being, unfortunately.
The following that the film developed isn’t quite as big as, say, The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Big Lebowski, but it shows that there are fans of it out there. Yes, I am one of them, but I also didn’t come across it until 2017 when I found it on Hulu. Why it took me so long to discover this gem is beyond me.
Buckaroo Banzai (an excellent Peter Weller) is a man of many talents. He’s a neurosurgeon, physicist, and a rock star. He even has his own line of comic books. Everywhere he goes, people shout, “It’s Buckaroo Banzai!”. When the world needs help, look no further. Buckaroo and his team, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, will be there to save the day.
Buckaroo’s latest experiment, the Oscillation Overthruster, allows him to travel through solid matter. In doing so, he discovers an alien race from the 8th dimension known as the Red Lectroids. Their plan is to destroy Earth and return to their home of Planet 10. When do they plan on doing this? Well, as they say during one chant, “real soon.”
Buckaroo Banzai is aware of how ridiculous its plot is and never takes itself seriously. In addition to its lead knowing as much as he does, the alien are characters all named John and then given a ridiculous last name of some kind. The funniest is one called John Bigbootè (Christopher Lloyd), which is constantly mistaken as John “Bigbooty,” and he has to remind everyone that it’s “Big-boo-tay.”
The Lectroids’ dictator, John Whorfin, is played wonderfully by John Lithgow, whose deranged lunacy, horrible hygiene, and alien accent that sounds Russian at times makes him one of the most bizarre villains. But Lithgow plays it with great comedic timing and never goes into trying to make the character serious.
Some random moments appear in Buckaroo Banzai, such as a watermelon in a strange spot. Jeff Goldblum’s character asks why it’s placed there, to which someone replies, “I’ll tell you later.” One of the great things about the movie is that it doesn’t try to spoon feed audience members. They just have to go along with it, and if they can hang on, they’ll be in for a fun time.
For those who already own the Shout! Select release of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, this new steelbook doesn’t come with anything new, aside from the excellent cover artwork. The special features on the first disc are the same audio commentaries and a two-hour documentary that was released with the original collector’s edition. The second disc also has the same features, which include deleted scenes, the jet car trailer, the film’s original trailer, and a featurette titled “Bucakroo Banzai Declassified,” which is a collection of archival interviews mixed with footage from the restored film.
The video quality is the same, which is mostly excellent but also has some noticeable moments of dirt and grain. The end credits, which are still a treat to watch, especially looked dirtier than the rest of the film. The audio quality is superb, capturing every moment of electric shock and gunfire quite well.
Buckaroo Banzai may not be the best movie ever made, but it’s genuinely fun to watch over and over again. Its plot may be a bit convoluted at times, but the characters are a blast, and the humor sets the film’s tone perfectly. A must watch for fans of the '80s and science-fiction adventure.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension Steelbook Limited Edition Blu-ray will be released on May 15, 2018.