Good camp is hard to pull off. The humor needs to be broad, but the prevailing spirit has to be unflinchingly deadpan. And you need at least one good watermelon joke. All of this can be found in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, a tangy homage to old Saturday-morning serials. Peter Weller is coolly low-key as world-famous neurosurgeon/theoretical physicist/rock star Buckaroo, a hero just as comfortable blasting a six-shooter as he is spouting Zen-ish koans (”No matter where you go, there you are”). The plot – which involves fugitive aliens from Planet 10 (led by John Lithgow), the suicidal twin sister of Buckaroo’s dead wife, and a jet car that can zip into the eighth dimension – is as overcooked as it gets, yet it never loses its sense of trashy, unadulterated fun.
Fans will drool over the extras, including some illuminating deleted scenes (of particular note is an alternate opening detailing Buckaroo’s tragic childhood, featuring Jamie Lee Curtis as Banzai’s mother) and director W.D. Richter’s commentary, which reveals some colorful behind-the-scenes battles with studio execs. At one point, Richter was told to change the eyewear Weller sports in the film because ”heroes don’t wear red glasses.” When they can vaporize a pineal tumor with a laser scalpel, play a Stratocaster like Eddie Van Halen, and break the sound barrier in a Ford pickup, they can wear anything they damn well please.