Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Goldblum
Director: W.D. Richter
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: MG
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: January 2, 2002

“Buckaroo, I don’t know what to say. Lectroids? Planet 10? Nuclear extortion? A girl named John?”

Film *** (on the cheese scale)

If there was ever a movie crying out not to be taken seriously whatsoever, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is indeed such a movie. In what other movie will you ever find a central character who is a neurosurgeon, a scientist, a time traveler, a comic book legend, and a rock and roll superstar at the same time? Where other movie has had the audacity to contain an alien invasion plot where aliens plot to take over the universe by simply hiding behind walls and in wooden tables? Buckaroo Banzai is certainly an odd movie experience, but an extremely fun, dishing out as much cheese as one movie can possibly dish out.

The central plot consists of Buckaroo becoming the first man to speed travel to the mysterious Eight Dimension, and not be affected by it whatsoever. The movie’s villain has been affected in a major way by a similar attempt. The once brilliant Dr. Lizardo (John Lithgow) has been completely taken over by a deadly alien force known as the Lectroids, and is intending to do the alien race a favor by exterminating life on earth, along with his henchman known as John Bigboote (Christopher Lloyd). The Lectroids plot soon faces a serious thorn when Buckaroo is given the ability to see through certain Lectroid disguises, including human form.

Buckaroo’s elite team consists of New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), the scientific brains of the bunch, vehicles specialist Pretty Tommy (Lewis Smith), Buckaroo’s second in command Rawhide (Clancy Brown), and the beautiful Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin), who is not really Buckaroo’s flame, who’s dead, but her identical twin sister. This team poses as both Buckaroo’s back up team, otherwise known as Team Banzai, but the members of Buckaroo’s rock n’ roll band, known as The Honk Kong Cavilers. Something tells me every cult fan’s favorite part is when Buckaroo says to his fans on stage, “Hey, don’t be mean. We don’t have to be mean because remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”

I mentioned how high on the cheese scale Buckaroo Banzai is, but I must confess, for a movie made in 1984, the special effects are pretty impressive. The opening scene, in which Buckaroo speed travels through the Eight Dimension, contains some of the most exciting effects to be seen in any other movie at the time, other than the Star Wars and Star Trek films. The movie also contains some pretty cool futuristic set pieces, including the design of the Lectroids’ spaceship, and Buckaroo’s laboratory.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai just might be one of the greatest intentionally cheesy movies ever made. Those who are open to something a lot different than what is usually offered by Hollywood are in for something of an usual treat.

Video ****

This may be the single best transfer of any 80s movie I’ve ever witnessed, as MGM applies their DVD brilliance for release of Buckaroo Banzai. The picture is a glorious one, with superbly bright colors, crisp image quality. Colors are definitely a high point on this disc, with every possible color used in a scene turning up with total vibrant realization. MGM should give themselves a pat on the back for this flawless turnout for this now eighteen year old release.

Audio ****

Likewise for the audio department, MGM delivers the sound goods with this tremendously done, 5.1 digital audio transfer for Buckaroo Banzai. Like you’d expect from most sci-fi movies, the sound is consistently sharp, all around in terms of present, and superbly heard in the entire presentation.

Features ****

A package that I know will delight all the cult fans out there. MGM takes their Special Edition quality and applies to a near-budget priced disc. Featured is a commentary by director W.D. Richter and Reno (one of the characters in the movie), as well as a fact track about the unknown facts of Pinky Carruther (another character). Also included is a nice documentary titled “Banzai: Declassified”, a huge deleted scenes archive, an extended opening, detailed character profiles, a photo gallery, a special section titled “Banzai Institute Archives”, a Jet Car All Access feature, and a teaser trailer. Wonderfully put together from MGM!


Clearly, not a movie for everyone, but for those seeking a different kind of comic adventure, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension is a one of a kind ride that is both thrilling and humorous.