Pee-wee's Big Adventure hit theaters 30 years ago, and we're celebrating the film's best lines

By Drew Mackie
Updated July 21, 2015 12:45 PM
Credit: Everett

Say the name "Pee-wee Herman," and most people think about the red bow tie, the gray suit, and perhaps a quirky, childlike innocence. Yeah, there’s that other thing, sure, but instead we’re here to focus on Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, which turns 30 years old this week.

In the movie, which hit theaters on July 26, 1985, Pee-wee is never at a loss for what to say in response to the various characters he encounters on his quest to find his beloved bike. As such, we’re honoring the movie’s 30th anniversary with a nostalgic look at the film’s best lines – Pee-wee’s and otherwise.

The best rejection line ever

“I’m a loner, Dottie – a rebel.” Spoken by Pee-wee to the lovelorn Dottie (E.G. Daily), it was enough to inspire a song.

The best line to use if you’re ever stranded in Texas

In this writer’s imagination, “I remember … the Alamo!” should always be greeted with cheers. And similarly …

The best line to prove to anyone that you’re in Texas

“The stars at night, are big and bright …”

“Deep in the heart of Texas!”

Any line that can elicit synchronized claps from passersby is a good one to know. (Again, this really works in Texas, right?)

The line that gave us all an important fact about Texas history

Just in case this ever comes up in conversation or on a U.S. history quiz, know that Jan Hooks would laugh at you if you think there’s a basement in the Alamo.

The best comeback infinite loop

If there’s one thing worse than having “I know you are but what am I?” turned back on you, it’s having it turned back on you by Francis (Mark Holton), the villain of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. The full argument is also worth watching in video form, if for no other reason than the underrated comeback “I don’t make monkeys, I just train them.”

What’s Cyndi Lauper’s Favorite ’80s Song?

The best foreign-language goodbye

“Au revoir, Simone” should be another pop-culture-referencing way to dismiss someone, just like "Bye, Felicia." This line inspired not only a song but an entire band.

Fun fact about the actress who played Simone, Diane Salinger: Tim Burton teamed her up with Paul Reubens again to play the Penguin’s parents in Batman Returns.

The best terrible attempt at French

No, “Merci bleh-bleh” does not qualify as actual French and will not impress your Francophone friends. However, it is an alternative to “thank you” that will get smiles of recognition from fellow Pee-wee Herman fans.

The best of-the-era comeback that has been rendered ineffective in the age of smartphone cameras

Say this today and the object of your anger will simply whip out his phone and take that very picture.

The best line for deterring a generation from hitchhiking

Oh, how the legend of Large Marge (Alice Nunn) haunts us to this day.

“On this very night, 10 years ago, along this same stretch of road, in a dense fog just like this, I saw the worst accident I’ve ever seen. There was this sound, like a garbage truck dropped off the Empire State Building, and when they finally pulled the driver’s body from the twisted, burning wreck … It looked like this!”

Claymation was never so scary.

The sexiest-ever reading of the line "I know you are but what am I?"

Fast-forward to the 1:20 mark, or just watch the whole thing and revel in the fact that James Brolin is the only other actor to ever play Pee-wee Herman on-screen.

The best lines for addressing our breakfast food

You have to wonder how may parents endured kids speaking some variation of “Good morning, Mr. Breakfast” and “I pity the fool who don’t eat my cereal.”

The best line to excuse yourself from a movie about your life

“I don’t have to see it. I lived it.”

Spoken in an unusually suave manner by Pee-wee, it’s the last line of the movie, but thankfully not the last time we get to hear Pee-wee speak.

The new sequel, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, debuts in March 2016.