Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, The (1984)

Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, The (1984)

“Anything’s possible.”

Shortly after meeting the identical twin sister (Ellen Barkin) of his former wife, a polymath superhero named Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) joins forces with his bandmates Perfect Tommy (Lewis Smith), Reno Nevada (Pepe Serna), and Rawhide (Clancy Brown) — as well as his scientific mentor (Robert Ito) and a doctor-colleague (Jeff Goldblum) — in fighting back against the criminally insane Lord John Whorfin (Jon Lithgow), who is working alongside a pair of alien scientists (Christopher Lloyd and Vincent Schiavelli) to steal an “oscillation overthruster”.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aliens
  • Jeff Goldblum Films
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Science Fiction
  • Superheroes
  • World Domination

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary refers to this midnight-movie cult favorite as a “scatterbrained, sloppily made science-fiction comedy for the stoned out generation.” He asserts that the story — about Buckaroo Banzai doing “battle with a lot of weirdly dressed aliens and a mad Italian scientist” — “gets lost because of the chaotic pacing and lack of continuity, the overabundance of characters who run around in fancy outfits with no place to go, and the fact that first-time director W.D. Richter (who wrote the script for 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers) never bothers to establish where anyone is in relation to anyone else.”

Peary adds that “as played by Peter Weller, Banzai unfortunately turns out to be a pretty conventional hero” whose “special skills are never really put to work — it’s as if he has them only so the film’s publicity releases will sound interesting.” He argues that while “Weller is handsome,” he “hasn’t the necessary charisma to play a superhero,” and “his cockiness reflects the attitude of the whole production.”

I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s review, though I think the failings he points out here — i.e., the “chaotic pacing,” “lack of continuity,” and “overabundance of characters who run around in fancy outfits” — are actually what endear the kooky film to its fans. Also of note is Lithgow going beyond over-the-top in an unhinged performance as a Mussolini-like scientist-dictator who’s actually an alien:

… and chill Goldblum getting to wear western duds after casually performing life-changing neurosurgery.

Meanwhile, Barkin has an entirely thankless role as the female love interest; she spends most of the film either crying and trying to kill herself or being tortured.

While I’m not personally a fan of this weird flick, enough are to make it worth a one-time viewing simply for its cult status.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • J. Michael Riva’s production design

Must See?
Yes, once, simply for its cult value.


  • Cult Movie


One thought on “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, The (1984)

  1. First viewing (10/3/20). Not must-see – though it seems to have a strong cult following.

    It reads like a very ’80s movie. It’s over-stuffed and tries to take on too much for one film.

    It does start off well – in terms of energy and exposition. There’s an intriguing atmosphere of ‘What the hell is going on?’

    But, as it progresses, the film slowly appears to lose control – as the writing also begins to fall apart and lack of a unifying tone bleeds through. Desperation seems to take over.

    I did like Rosalind Cash’s forceful cameo appearance as John Emdall – in which she basically explains the plot for all of us. And, in an underwritten villain role, Lithgow goes absolutely whole-hog with scenery-chewing – which makes us end up wanting him to have more screen-time than he’s given.

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