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New Pee-wee Herman Movie Pee-wee’s Big Holiday Will Debut on Netflix

By  · Published on February 24th, 2015

Warner Bros.

Paging Pee-wee Herman fans. We have some great news for Pee-wee Herman fans. The movie Paul Reubens has been teasing for half a decade is finally about to start shooting, and we have some other details, too. It’s coming a little later than we’d last heard, but Judd Apatow is still producing the sequel (do we call it that, or is the Pee-wee character more like Chaplin’s tramp?), which now has a familiarly worded title: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. And a director: John Lee, who as creator of Wonder Showzen is perfectly experienced in blurring the line between children’s entertainment and grown-up humor.

Most exciting of all is the news of a new distributor: Netflix. That’s right, this movie will skip theaters to premiere through the company’s streaming service. Probably sometime next year, as production is reportedly beginning next month. A basic synopsis has also been revealed, telling us little more than is hinted by the title: Pee-wee takes his first ever vacation for an “epic story of friendship and destiny.” I guess that’ll be different than his Big Adventure, which was more of a mission than a leisure trip. And not to be confused with Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special despite the word holiday being in the title.

What I’m now wondering is whether Big Holiday will skew more towards a mature audience or be as kid-friendly as Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the entirety of which is already streaming on Netflix (as are the movies Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Big Top Pee-wee). Is a new generation of children becoming fans of the character or are they mainly being watched by nostalgic adults? The character did start out more adult-oriented in its humor, and Lee has been mainly helming older-skewing, dildo-joke-filled Comedy Central shows like Inside Amy Schumer and Broad City plus his amusingly creepy Adult Swim series The Heart, She Holler.

Here is one clip directed by Lee that makes me optimistic that Pee-wee’s Big Holiday will have at least an implicit reference to Reubens’ notorious public masturbation scandal:

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.