For many people Peter Weller will always be RoboCop. For me, Weller will always be the super-cool Buckaroo Banzai, the neurosurgeon, rock star, comic book hero who fights Red Lectroids from Planet Ten with help from his back-up band (of fellow awesomely named scientists) The Hong Kong Cavaliers, as well as his fan club, the Blue Blaze Irregulars.
I was enchanted by this film from the off as a young tween/teen – I had the comic adaptation, and just loved that it was just so out there – you either bought into it all and have fun with it, or you didn’t like the film at all.
With the completion of his father’s life work, with the oscillation overthruster, Buckaroo with his jet car is able to puncture physical reality, and travel through objects via another dimension. Unfortunately this draws the attention of the red and black lectroids, who are prepared to destroy the earth to stay safe, while in our own dimension, Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) has been possessed by a red lectroid, John Whorfin, who is determined to get back to his own dimension and will do anything to achieve his ends, including breaking out of a madhouse, and working to steal Buckaroo’s overthruster.
This one is just so much damned fun, and has a fantastic supporting cast, Jeff Goldblum, Clancy Brown, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd, Dan Hedaya, and Vincent Schiavelli! And all of them seem to delightedly buy into the reality of the world they are trying to create.
Weller’s unflappable Banzai is just a great character, he’s able to do almost everything, but never loses his compassion and empathy for his fellows, even when there is the threat of nuclear destruction.
Sure, some of the effects aren’t as good as they could be nowadays, but the film has such a sense of it’s own coolness, that it doesn’t matter. And I love the fact that it feels like one of the movies that you either know about, or you don’t – like a secret club or handshake.
I’ll always lament the fact that we never got the next film in the series, and I remember when there was talk of a possible television series, and I remember (and have) the occasional comic book released, because the characters, and the world is just so much damned fun – and there’s a sequel novel coming in August 2021!
And who doesn’t love that ending for the credit roll with Buckaroo and the Cavaliers walking around to a perfectly 80s synth tune?
It’s funny, it’s out there, and there’s a reason it’s a cult favourite. And that character names, New Jersey, John Bigboote, Reno, Perfect Tommy, John Small Berries, Rawhide, Penny Priddy.