PEE-WEE HERMAN, the darling of "Late Night With David Letterman" and enfant terrible of the in-crowd, totters off to movieland with "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," the first kiddie cult movie.
It's a series of comic blackouts and inside jokes linked by the big little boy's search for his missing bicycle, and while it's frequently great fun, Pee-wee sure could have used some training wheels.
Pee-wee is in fact 32-year-old comedian Paul Reubens, who is as resolutely wedded to this character as a ventriloquist to his dummy. His creation is a clever child of indeterminate age who's as cheerful as Big Bird with his sing-song la-la-las and as fashion conscious as Pinkie Lee, also a devotee of perky bowties.
Reubens' television act consists mostly of playing with his really cool toys on Letterman, MTV and HBO. And "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" is basically an extension of this stand-up parody of childhood, which in feature-length doses is as tiresome as a Jerry Lewis comedy.
And if you haven't already noticed, Pee- wee might be Lewis, with the same burr haircut, the same mannerisms, even the same suit -- except that Pee-wee hasn't got a telethon and isn't in the Legion D'honneur. But you known the French.
Basically the movie is a one-man show that will appeal to Pee-wee fanatics and five-year- olds who'll enjoy the cartoon pace and flavor, with movie buffs left to ponder the entertaining, if over-used, film style spoofs and the inside jokes.
The harebrained plot finds Pee-wee off after his beloved bicycle on the advice of a fortune teller who predicts it can be found in the basement of the Alamo. He encounters, among other zanies, an escaped convict who was sent to the big house for cutting a Do Not Remove tag off a pillow. His search ends in a make-believe Hollywood studio with a lamentable chase scene through the history of bad cinemas, from beach blanket movies to a Twisted Sister video.
Pee-wee is a cult phenomenon, this year's answer to "Where's the beef?" And like most fads, by the time Pee-wee's gushy laughs and shrieks have been translated to the screen, he's already passe. Sic transit Pee-wee.