Movies To See Before You Die: “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!”
Directed by W.D Richter and written by Earl Mac Rauch, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eight Dimension” is a wacky, fun sci-fi adventure. A flick that questions its genre and requires multiple viewings to appreciate all the jokes and gags, you’ll spend the first time watching wondering what the heck is going on. Quite frankly, nothing about Buckaroo Banzai ever really makes sense and it’s not supposed to.
The cast assembled is phenomenal. Peter Weller as Buckaroo Banzai, John Lithgow as Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin, Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Sidney Zweibel/New Jersey, Ellen Barkin as Penny Priddy and Christopher Lloyd as John Bigbooté.
Trying to describe the story is always interesting as it defies synopsis. We are just dropped in the middle of an ongoing plot, you feel like you turned on a show in the middle of a season without ever watching the earlier episodes.
As described by the title we follow the adventures Buckaroo Banzai – a neurosurgeon, physicist, rock star, race car driver, secret agent, all around badass – and his backup band/sidekicks the The Hong Kong Cavaliers. As we open, Buckaroo is preparing his jet car equipped with an “oscillation overthruster” in efforts of passing through solid matter. The test is a success allowing him to travel through a mountain via the 8th dimension. This draws the attention of Dr. Emilio Lizardo who wants to steal the invention in order to send the Red Lectroids – a race of alien reptiles – back to Planet 10 and overthrow the Black Lectroids, who banished them. Lizardo’s mind had been taken over by Lord John Whorfin – leader of the Red Lectroids- during a failed overthruster experiment in 1938. The Black Lectroids then tell Buckaroo they will start a war on Earth if he doesn’t stop the Red Lectroids.
Production designer J. Michael Riva played a large part in creating this zany yet stylish universe. The unique sets, props and costume choices fit perfectly and only add to the confusion. My favorite is the snappy red cowboy outfit worn by Jeff Goldblum, I really wish I had one just like it.
Kevin Smith has said Buckaroo was one of the most influential movies of his life. It has been referenced in TV Shows and Movies such as Star Trek, Men In Black and The Life Aquatic. Many references can also be found in Back to the Future. Producer Neil Canton, Production Manager Dennis Jones and Christopher Lloyd all worked on Buckaroo before Back to the Future.
Oscillation Overthruster and The Flux Capacitor
The name “Flux Capacitor” could be a be derivative of “Oscillation Overthruster”. The overthruster readout display is a similar lit up triangle design like the flux capacitor and is also placed in the same location inside the Jet Car as the Delorean. The number 88 (88mph) is a common occurrence in Banzai, with its similarity to BB it shows up as the team logo and on the license plate of the jet car (HB88).
Buckaroo is another example of a movie abandoned by the studio and reborn again by a VHS cult following. Perfectly incoherent, it has everything you want in a flick – aliens, interdimensional travel, rock & roll, infectious quotability, an unexplained watermelon – the list goes on and on. It’s an important movie that influenced filmmakers and laid the groundwork for future science fiction films.