“The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai”video59
Directed by W.D. Richter
MGM Home Entertainment 1984
103 minutes


by Tammy Wanchena

Aliens are among us and they are all named John.

In 1938, Dr. Emilio Lizardo fell into the Eighth Dimension where his body was taken over by the evil Lord John Whorfin; one of many Red Lectroids imprisoned there from Planet 10. The insanity that comes from being possessed by an alien life form causes him to be committed. Now, several years later, he must escape from the asylum for Buckaroo Banzai has created an Oscillation Overthruster that can bore a Ford pickup through solid matter at warp speed and enter into the Eighth Dimension. John Whorfin plans to steal the Oscillation Overthruster and free the other Red Lectroids so they can take over Planet 10 and destroy the Earth.

Planet 10 must help Buckaroo save his planet and theirs. They give him the power to see the aliens who are disguised as humans. They send him a larger than life, holographic black woman named John with a warning seen only through 3-D glasses made of bubble wrap. And they send him a Black Lectroid in the guise of a Rastafarian to assist his crew in saving the Overthruster. With the aid of Banzai’s eclectic gang, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, they set out to save the world.

This is not a biker flick. The infamous Mark Foster, known “righteous bro” and friend to Gary Charpentier, won a copy of the video at a motorcycle rally and generously donated it to MMM, so we assumed it would be and I was too close to deadline to rent another film. However, there is a five-minute bike scene where Peter Weller (Banzai) drags his feet in a small chase scene where he could not be riding faster than forty miles per hour. Granted, he is on a Harley Sportster.

I am the first to admit that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer and I had to watch the film twice to insure I understood it the first time. I did, but you will see what I mean if you watch this movie. This is not a film you can pick up in the middle. Be prepared to sit still for 103 minutes without distraction if you decide to watch it!

The best thing about “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai” is by far the cast! Peter Weller is the perfect Zen-like Buckaroo. Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum and Lewis Smith help round out the good guys. But my favorites are the bad guys! Christopher Lloyd as John Big Booty along with Dan Hedaya and Vincent Schiavelli are the ideal evil alien cronies for John Lithgow’s Whorfin. And John Lithgow is fabulous! No other actor could have pulled off the insanity of his role. I am not a big fan of science fiction and it took me a while to decide whether or not I liked the film but in retrospect I was entertained enough to sit through it twice.



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