A shout out to Buckaroo Banzai

by Eric Marcoullier

Golden era of fashion, too!

Man, 1984. Perhaps the golden era of cinema. Check out the top 10 movies of that year:

  1. Ghostbusters
  2. Beverly Hills Cop
  3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  4. Gremlins
  5. Karate Kid
  6. Police Academy
  7. Footloose
  8. Romancing the Stone
  9. Star Tek III: The Search for Spock
  10. Splash

That may well have been peak comedy, with so many sub-genres well represented (family, adult, horror, slapstick and romance [weighing in at 1, 2, 4, 6 and 8/10 respectively]). but despite all those excellent choices, my favorite movie of 1984 was, by far, the absurdist masterpiece The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!, an “action-packed science-fiction adventure-comedy” about a physicist / neurosurgeon / rock-and-roller who battles communist aliens from Planet 10. Here’s the movie’s original trailer, a disjointed mess that doesn’t do any favors for the movie.


(Have you noticed that the quality of trailers has increased dramatically over the past 25 years, while the movies themselves have gotten progressively worse?)

Buckaroo Banzai drops you in the middle of a story and expects you to catch up. As author Jason Henderson says, at any moment you look at the film, you feel as though you’re seeing a far smaller fraction of the movie’s reality than a normal movie would suggest. Like Harry Potter, Buckaroo Banzai created an alternate world of amazing depth, but it did it in 90 minutes instead of 4,000 pages.

How many movies can boast a cast of Robocop, The Fly, and Kurgan? Buckaroo Banzai starred Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum and Clancy Brown, along with John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya and Billy Vera (of “and the Beaters” fame).

Looking for more information? The Internet was made forĀ Buckaroo Banzai:

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