Pee Wee Herman is just like any other adult trapped inside a child's fantasy world with seemingly unlimited resources and imagination. His prized possession is a tricked-out Schwinn bicycle with many gadgets, which he shows off to his bicyclist friends who have a BMX club. Francis Buxton is a fellow man-child who is Pee-Wee's nemesis. Francis, who comes from a rich family, tries to buy Pee-Wee's bicycle, but Pee-Wee would not sell the bike for all the gold in Fort Knox. Francis, however, is not deterred, and vows to resort to unethical means to acquire the bike. Dottie, a bicycle shop employee, works on Pee-Wee's bike and has a crush on Pee-Wee, but her crush is not reciprocated.
While shopping for a new bike horn and practical joke gadgets, Pee-Wee's bike is stolen, causing Pee-Wee to go into shock. After recovering, Pee-Wee sees no sign of his bike, only a large number of differing cycles. Pee-Wee files a theft report with the police, who admit that bicycle theft is a common problem and the chances of recovery are slim. When told that a possible clue could be if anyone liked the bicycle or wanted it, Pee-Wee realizes Francis is the chief suspect. Pee-Wee storms the Buxton residence, where Francis is in a pool-like bathtub. Pee-Wee's fight with Francis is broken up by the butler and Francis' father, whereas Pee-Wee is forced to admit the only proof he has of Francis' guilt is his desire to have the bike, which is insufficient evidence. Pee-Wee holds a meeting with everyone he knows about the turn of events, but this does not lead anywhere and only serves to wear everyone's patience thin and exhaust their sympathy they have for Pee-Wee's plight, all except Dottie, who offers to help, first by seeing if she can her boss Chuck to give a discount on a new bike, and when Pee-Wee declines, offers to help him search, but Pee-Wee snaps that he does not need anybody.
Pee-Wee then offers a $10,000 cash reward for anyone who returns his bike. When Dottie asks how can Pee-Wee afford such as lucrative bounty, his reasoning is that whoever returns the bike does not deserve it as they are obviously the robber. Pee-Wee also rents air time on the radio station to announce the reward, to which Francis is listening. Francis, who did indeed steal the bike, is intimidated by Pee-Wee's relentlessness and realizes that the police or Pee-Wee could find evidence of his guilt, decides to cut his losses. He pays a hired goon for stealing Pee-Wee's bike, then extra to have it sent away.
Desperate and unhinged, Pee-Wee meanders into a rough section of town, where he scares off a group of hoods, including their leader. Pee-Wee then sees a shop for Madam Ruby, a fortune teller, and sees if this could be a way to find his bike. Madam Ruby is a fraud who has an electric lamp pretending to be her glowing crystal ball, and in order to gain Pee-Wee's trust, uses cold reading ("You came to see me because you...want something"). When Pee-Wee gives Madam Ruby his wallet to pay her, before handing it back to him she glances at multiple pictures of Pee-Wee and his bike, and correctly deduces his bicycle was stolen. Although a fake, Madam Ruby does correctly state that Pee-Wee's bike is intact and has been sent far away, but cannot deduce where. Looking at a warehouse outlet across from her window, which is "Al & Moe's", she says the Alamo, and adds "the basement" after seeing Al & Moe advertise "bargain basement prices".
Pee-Wee continues his quest to recover his bike. Lacking a car or money to pay for a ticket to San Antonio, Pee-Wee tries hitchhiking. After many hours of cars passing him by, he gets picked up by a convertible driven by Mickey Morelli, a recent prison escapee, as evidenced by his wearing a severed handcuff on his right wrist. Mickey says that he has a bad temper, and in a fit of rage...cut off a mattress tag! Pee-Wee is not judgmental, and relates his tribulation of the stolen bike. During the ride, Mickey comes along a police barricade and is ready for a gun battle, but Pee-Wee suggests a better idea, using his disguise kit. At the roadblock, Mickey is disguised in a false beard and horn-rimmed glasses and Pee-Wee as his wife, with a ponytail wig and a frumpy poncho dress. The disguise works so well that the sheriff's deputy wants to admire Pee-Wee's dress, and Pee-Wee is more than glad to oblige, preening and using his famous line "Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer!" The deputy then permits passage. As Mickey breathes a sigh of relief, he laughs with Pee-Wee. Pee-Wee laughs in return as a flatbed truck drives next to them. Pee-Wee fails to see that the flatbed is transporting bicycles and his bike is on board as Mickey turns into an off-ramp.
Later that night, along a stretch in the back country, Pee-Wee is driving while asking how prison life feels. Mickey says to adjust to it as he dozes off. Pee-Wee then drives along a mountain and sees signs that warn of increasingly curvy roads, then of falling rocks. In order to steer clear of them, Pee-Wee swerves, causing Mickey's convertible to fall from the mountain! Pee-Wee and Mickey scream in horror until Pee-Wee deploys the convertible top, which causes the car to act like a sailboat and land on the road below without damage. Mickey evicts Pee-Wee from his car, not over anger at the fall, but feeling that he cannot drag Pee-Wee into a hunt for a national fugitive. Mickey says that he is a "loner and a rebel", causing Pee-Wee to remark deja vu as that is the same thing he told Dottie. As Mickey drives off, Pee-Wee pleads that he is in the middle of nowhere. In a pitch black area, Pee-Wee uses the headlight goggles he acquired at the magic shop to see his way, only to find himself among a bunch of wild animals!
Moments after Mickey's abandonment, Pee-Wee is picked up by a tractor trailer. The driver, an old woman named Large Marge, recites a gruesome tale of how "along this very highway, ten years ago, and in this dense fog, there was the worst accident she'd ever seen, and it sounded like a garbage truck being dropped from the Empire State Building". She makes a hideously grotesque face at Pee-Wee to show what happened to the accident victim, scaring Pee-Wee (and maybe causing him to consider stop hitchhiking). Pee-Wee asks to be dropped off at the Wheel Inn, a truckstop, whereas the driver says "Be sure to tell them Large Marge sent you!", as she drives away cackling. After that traumatizing experience, Pee-Wee takes a moment to look at the truck stop, which is adorned with life-size model dinosaurs, as he returns to reality.
Pee-Wee enters the truckstop and repeats what he was told: "Large Marge sent me". All the truckers stop what they are doing and gasp as if a murder announcement was made. With the same eerie music, one of the men recalls "along this very highway, there was a patch of pea soup fog, causing the worst accident they'd ever seen". The man recalls, "Why, tonight is the anniversary", and motions to a plaque that honors Large Marge, who died ten years ago. Pee Wee gulps hard and admits, "That means the Large Marge I was riding with was..." to which everyone says in unison, "Her ghost!" Pee Wee looks at the plaque with fear as Large Marge's laughter is heard.
Pee-Wee orders a meal, but when the check comes, he detects that he has lost his wallet. Pee Wee works off his debt by washing dishes, and a waitress named Simone gives him a little extra cash for working longer. Simone invites him to spend time with her watching the sunrise in one of the big dinosaurs.
Production photos & stillsEdit
Pee-wee's Big Adventure · Beetlejuice · Batman · Edward Scissorhands · Batman Returns · Ed Wood · Mars Attacks! · Sleepy Hollow · Planet of the Apes · Big Fish · Charlie and the Chocolate Factory · Corpse Bride · Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street · Alice in Wonderland · Dark Shadows · Frankenweenie · Big Eyes · Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children · Beetlejuice Returns
The Island of Doctor Agor · Doctor of Doom · Stalk of the Celery Monster · Luau · Vincent · Hansel and Gretel · Frankenweenie · Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp · The Jar · Conversations with Vincent · The World of Stainboy · Kung Fu · Mannequin · Bones · Here With Me