Variety‘s Cynthia Littleton is reporting Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) is developing an untitled Pee-wee Herman feature for Universal with Paul Reubens co-writing the screenplay with actor Paul Rust, who’s probably best known for playing the lead role in the awful I Love You, Beth Cooper and whose writing talent involves a handful of TV gigs including “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”.
Apatow is merely shepherding the project with no current intention of directing. The film is described as a road pic built around “a gigantic adventure,” which pretty much tells us nothing though it could mean a return to the Pee-wee feature film roots, which began with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure in 1985 directed by Tim Burton.
Apatow was quoted by Variety saying, “Let’s face it, the world needs more Pee-wee Herman… I am so excited to be working with Paul Reubens — who is an extraordinary and groundbreaking actor and writer. It’s so great to watch him return with such relevance.”
The collaboration came about as Apatow saw Reubens during his current resurrection of his ’80s alter-ego titled “Pee-wee Herman Show” at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles. The return of the character is the first since 1991 when Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure in Florida.
I have a hard time believing there is still enough interest in the character for a feature film to be viable. After earning $40 million in 1985 with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure the 1988 sequel managed a measly $15 million. If there was already a drastic decline in the ’80s what makes it a good option now?
Also, the first two Pee-wee films were rated PG, a rating Apatow is, for the most part, unfamiliar with outside of the Will Ferrell starrer Kicking and Screaming in 2005. The PG-13 Drillbit Taylor is about as tame as Apatow has been in the past five years, but I guess even that film earned $32 million. They can’t realistically be expecting much more from a Pee-Wee movie can they?
For the uninitiated here’s a taste of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and one of the annoying catchphrases we can expect from the new one… I’ll admit, I liked it as a kid, but I can’t help but feel Pee-wee was a product of his time and outside of a few shows during the current revival I feel like his time has passed and without the television show the audience for this seems as if it would be non-existent.