THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI: ACROSS THE 8th DIMENSION
Buckaroo Banzai is like a Doc Savage story updated with a hip attitude that lets it play the absurdities of all the heroic poses up in po-faced deadpan. The film is loaded with wall-to-wall incongruities and throwaway non-sequitirs. Herein lies the fault however what one gets is mostly a private gag that keeps on running oblivious to its audience. Narrative and drama are entirely lost in the continual escalation of complicity and seemingly the introduction of a new subplot every five minutes. Nor is any of this helped by director W.D. Richters insistence on having all the characters rabbiting away at their dialogue with rapid-fire simultaneous banter. In all of this, the action is so constricted it never gets the opportunity to open up and be superheroic.
One joy however is the performance of John Lithgow, who goes full tilt with all the wild eye-rolling, giggling megalomania and mouth-pinched muttering he can muster. One expects similar things in the casting of Christopher Lloyd who tends to specialize in these type of roles but who instead remains entirely anonymous under one of Tom Burmans unconvincing rubber masks. Peter Weller plays with just the right degree of deadpan heroic stature and a cheeky Ellen Barkin is well paired up against him.
The film optimistically announced a sequel Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League on its end credits but despite a dedicated fan following such has never emerged. The recent years also saw rumours of a possible Buckaroo Banzai tv series but neither did this emerge.
Director W.D. Richter has worked on a number of other genre films. He delivered the scripts for Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), the Frank Langella Dracula (1979), John Carpenters Big Trouble in Little China (1986), the Stephen King adaptation Needful Things (1993) and Stealth (2005) about an artificially intelligent stealth bomber, as well as directed the fine cryogenic sleeper awakes film Late for Dinner (1991). Screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch had previously written Martin Scorseses New York, New York (1977), the Sean S. Cunningham thriller A Stranger is Watching (1982) and went onto the gonzo John Belushi biopic Wired (1989).