The Moviehunter

Pulp Culture
DVD REVIEW
Buckaroo Banzai returns

January 22, 2002
By Franklin Harris

"No matter where you go, there you are."

-- Buckaroo Banzai

Sometimes the left side of your brain wonders how a movie ever got made, even as the right side of your brain is simply happy it did.

"The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" is just the sort of movie that pits the two sides of your brain against one another.

Released in 1984, "Buckaroo Banzai," was the first real action comedy, meaning no one at the time quite knew what to make of it.

Now, thanks to MGM's new feature-packed DVD, viewers can relive all of the weirdness.

Peter Weller ("Robocop") stars as Dr. Buckaroo Banzai — brain surgeon and rocket scientist by day, rock star by night — who is backed up at all hours by his equally versatile friends, the Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Conspicuous among the Cavaliers is a pre-stardom Jeff Goldblum, who spends much of the movie dressed as a reject from a dude ranch.

The plot is just an excuse for all of the strange stuff director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Raugh hurl our way.

Buckaroo perfects a device called the Oscillation Overthruster, which opens a gateway to the 8th Dimension. But in doing so, he attracts the attention of the evil Red Lectoids, exiles from Planet 10 in the 8th Dimension, who have been stranded on Earth since the 1930s.

Their leader is Lord John Whorfin, whose mind is trapped inside the body of a human scientist, Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow).

While Lizardo and his henchmen try to steal the Overthuster, a second group of aliens from Planet 10 appear. They tell Buckaroo that he must stop Lizardo within 24 hours, or else they will destroy the Earth before Lizardo can escape.

Facing the threat of nuclear annihilation, Buckaroo and his team set out to find Lizardo and retrieve the Overthruster.

Along the way, Buckaroo meets a damsel in distress (Ellen Barkin), who turns out to be the twin sister of his dead wife.

"Buckaroo Banzai" features a manic performance from Lithgow, working in contrast to Weller's deadpan heroics. And there are random touches of brilliance, like the second group of aliens disguising themselves as Rastafarians in the belief that all of Earth is like Jamaica.

The DVD, which retails for $19.98, is packed with goodies, including a making-of documentary, deleted scenes, an extended opening (featuring a cameo by Jamie Lee Curtis), and a running director's commentary.

Only one question remains: Will we ever see the promised sequel, "Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League?"

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