Wed
Jul 27 2011 5:42pm

Wherever You Go, There You Are: A Look Back at Buckaroo Banzai

Cult classics are rarely born, they are chosen. It is not a knock on the cult classic as an institution to mention that movies that achieve that status usually do so by failing in some regard. Otherwise, they wouldn’t need adjectives. Some movies become cult classics by being bad in a charming and/or entertaining way, some by being transgressive in ways mainstream society isn’t prepared to deal with, others by just being flat-out weird. I submit, with great fondness, that The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, belongs to the latter category.

This isn’t to say that “if only the squares could understand it, Buckaroo Banzai would have been a hit.” Even to the most gracious and open-minded nerd, Buckaroo Banzai requires a great deal of attention to follow, far more than one normally associates with escapist entertainment, even in SF where a slight bit more is required if the movie in question is actually good SF. What would customarily be first-act exposition in Buckaroo Banzai, namely the details of the hero’s parentage and his early, formative development into the esoterically erudite Renaissance man he becomes, is relayed in a pre-credit crawl, in the fashion made popular by Star Wars. The audience is then tossed right into the deep end of the action, and either sinks or swims. Judging by its failure at the box office (grossing a mere $6 million on a budget of $12 million), it would appear all too many in Buckaroo Banzai’s initial audience sank (among those confused by the movie, definitely count Fox executives, who had no idea how to market it, and thus basically didn’t).

Personally, I loved this movie the first time I saw it (which was, oddly, only about five years ago), and I’ve loved it each time I’ve seen it since. It pains me that Buckaroo Banzai is paradoxically decades ahead of its time and yet completely of its time; it’s profoundly a movie by, for, and of geeks and nerds at a time before geek/nerd culture was mainstreamed, and a movie whose pre-CG special effects and pre-Computer Age production design were an essential part of its good-natured enthusiasm. What at the time was a hip, modern take on classic SF is now, almost thirty years later, almost indistinguishable from the SF cinema that inspired it in terms of the appeal to modern viewers: the charmingly old-fashioned special effects, and the comparatively innocent earnestness of its tone.

The story defies most attempts at description. It stars neurosurgeon/theoretical & practical physicist/race car driver/rock & roll star/comic book hero Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller), who along with his loyal comrades The Hong Kong Cavaliers (who serve with equal effectiveness as, variously, his medical and scientific support staff, backing band, and guys with guns for when bad guys need dealing with) try to save Earth from invasion by aliens from the 8th Dimension called Red Lectroids — it was the 80s, so a passing nod to the Commies was necessary — and from destruction by aliens from Planet 10 called Black Lectroids, who while reasonably friendly, can nonetheless not permit the Red Lectroids to run amok any longer. Oh, and the initial Red Lectroid invasion was reported by Orson Welles on the radio only to have him claim it was a radio adaptation of War of the Worlds. Oh, and all the Lectroids, Red and Black, are named John.

While that is a reasonable summary of the central conflict of the movie, it doesn’t even begin to cover it. The problem is, alternate explanations like “This movie is about Buckaroo Banzai being awesome” and “Dude, his homies are called The Hong Kong Cavaliers, how is that not cool?” “It just rules, what else can I say?” also lack sufficient scope. But they speak to to the exuberance of the movie, its proudly bizarre and intricately detailed back story, and its firm belief in the fact that certain things are just cool.

Director W.D. Richter does a fairly decent though unspectacular job bringing Earl Mac Rauch’s utterly (and wonderfully) insane script to life, as its the cast that really makes Buckaroo Banzai the delight it is. Weller does a fine job in the title role, making the effective choice of playing the character totally straight, thus making him seem all the more eccentric. John Lithgow, as the half-human/half-Red Lectroid boss Emilio Lazardo/John Whorfin, takes the opposite tack, overplaying and chewing as much scenery as he can get his hilarious fake teeth on. The Hong Kong Cavaliers, mainly Clancy Brown as Rawhide, Pepe Serna as Reno Nevada, and Lewis Smith as Perfect Tommy, all have a swagger that’s rooted firmly in Westerns, and a very natural chemistry with each other and with Mr. (Dr.?) Banzai. It’s also a chance to see a very young Ellen Barkin and Jeff Goldblum being amusing in underwritten roles, though the funniest performances in the whole movie might be the trio of Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, and Dan Hedaya as squabbling Red Lectroid underlings. (Lloyd in particular has a running gag that appeals to the eight-year-old in us all, wherein people persist in mispronouncing his last name “big booty” when it’s really “big boo-TAY.”)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension is a movie one either is able to “just go with” or ultimately finds bewildering. The thing is, even with the full force of Fox’s promotional might behind it, it’s still a strange enough movie that it might have been consigned to cult classic status anyway, though the chances of the announced sequel in the closing credits being made would go up considerably. But such what-ifs, unanswerable as they are, are beside the point, which is: Buckaroo Banzai is a profoundly geeky good time at the movies. And, after just one viewing, watching it again is like hanging out with old friends, and fun ones at that.


Danny Bowes is a playwright, filmmaker and blogger. He is also a contributor to nytheatre.com and Premiere.com.

56 comments
Ian Johnson
1. IanPJohnson
This movie is a favorite in my family. This is why, if I ever get an alarm for any future buildings I might own, it would invariably be this:

…There are monkey-boys in the facility…
Steven Halter
2. stevenhalter
I saw the movie in 1984 and loved it. I recall being quite excited that the sequel "Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League" was mentioned in the credits and would be out shortly.
Jared Garrett
3. Jared Garrett
One of my all time favorite films from the first time I saw it when I was 11. Nobody around me gets it. I hope that makes me superior, because the alternative is sad...
Shane Stringer
4. ShaneStringer
Heh. I still name my wireless networks "Yoyodyne"...
Jared Garrett
5. Kvon
I loved this movie (but it hasn't held up well for me over time). I think it's only behind Princess Bride in terms of quotability.
'Why me?' 'Because you're perfect.' 'Yeah, that's right.'

'Where are we going?' 'Planet 10!'
'When are we going?' 'Real soon!'
Tim Nolan
6. Dr_Fidelius
Out of interest, would you say this film is well-known in the US? At least in the geek community? I'd never heard of it until a couple of years ago, and I like to think I'm at least aware of the gaps in my nerdy knowledge. Wondered if it's a US/UK thing.

What a film though. I've never been able to explain it to anyone. Are there any other films where Clancy Brown doesn't play a huge evil dude?

My favourite moment:
"Why is there a watermelon there?"
"I'll tell you later."
Tex Anne
7. TexAnne
I'm ruthlessly paring down my possessions for a move, and in the process I'm ditching almost all of my ratty old college t-shirts. But _not_ my Banzai Institute one!

The engineering building at my undergraduate institutions was called Halbouty, pronounced "Hal Booty." Naturally, all the SF geeks called it "Hal-boo-TAY."
Jared Garrett
8. mochabean
@Dr_Fidelieus: I STILL say "why is there a watermelon there" from time to time. I loved this movie back in 1984 and subjected my friends to repeated viewings. And I knew my husband was the guy for me when, out of the blue one day, he yelled, "John Big Booty, you the weakest individual I ever know!" in his best Dr. Lizardo voice.
Greg Lincoln
9. glshade
Am I a poor old drunk loser for looking back on the adventures of BB as the best times of my lost life
Jared Garrett
10. charmingquark
"lithium is no longer available on credit"
Jared Garrett
12. waya
"Give her your coat."
"Why me?"
"Because you're perfect."
"You have a point."

I watched this when I was ten. This line stuck with me forever.
Jeff Youngstrom
13. jeffy
"Use more honey! Find out what she knows!"

HArai @11, I think it was "Laugh while you can, monkey boy." but maybe both are in there.

And while I'm being a quote accuracy weenie, it's "No matter where you go... there you are."
Jared Garrett
14. wingracer
One of my all time favorites.

And I'm with Ian, "…There are monkey-boys in the facility…" in a Dr. Lazardo voice would be a brilliant alarm.
Megan Frampton
15. MFrampton
This is one of my all-time favorites too--I saw it in the theaters when it first came out, then made sure to get a VHS copy, and now have the DVD.

My husband and I recently showed it to our 12 year-old son, and we all three howled! And now, of course, we quote lines from it all the time:

"That's your hand, Buckaroo!"
Jared Garrett
16. ArcLight
My favorite movie ever from back before I ever saw it. (Seriously, the Starlog articles making it sound like an updated Doc Savage and the awesome cast list made me a fan from start.) The biggest reason for me to get online originally was to find more BB stuff.
Michael Burke
17. Ludon
I too have to go with the "Why is there a watermelon there?" line. First for the fact that there was a watermelon there and then that they never did explain why.

I remember thinking about William S. Boroughs' writing when I saw this. Then when I saw Naked Lunch I thought "But Buckaroo Banzai did it better."
Steve Taylor
18. teapot7
I've always loved it. If only Buckaroo's band had been better, I'd love it completely.
Sherri Nichols
19. snichols
Yoyodyne - Where the Future Begins Tomorrow!

When Buckaroo Banzai became available on DVD, my husband and I each bought a copy of it to give the other for Christmas (without the other knowing, of course.)
Jared Garrett
20. Calven
The tie-in novel was a rare gem of its kind, too. It actually had stuff about the world crime league in it.
Jared Garrett
21. tatere
I'm sure that in the miserable annals of the Earth, it will be duly enshrined.

I love this movie and am always shocked when people have never heard of it. Not only fun, but full of important lessons! Like, "Don't be mean. There's no need to be mean."
David Levinson
22. DemetriosX
This really is a wonderful movie. I suddenly thought of it right before Christmas and gave it to my oldest daughter. She was a little confused, but seems to have liked it.

Add me to the list of people who were disappointed by the non-appearance of the announced sequel. There was another cult classic the following year that also promised a sequel that never was: Remo Williams. Nowhere near as quotable, but fun.

Home is where you wear your hat.
Hypatia James
23. hypatiajames
Buckaroo is one of the few movies my mother and I actually agree on, which makes no sense because of its out-there-ness.

I remember showing it to my friends on VHS in high school. They all were very patient with me, but they clearly didn't understand its awesomeness.

Home is definitely where you wear your hat. :-p
Jared Garrett
24. wiredog
IIRC, the engines for the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701 D) were built by Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. And wasn't YPS a client of Wolfram and Hart?

Loved that movie when I saw it in the theater. Got the DVD. Peter Weller certainly did some interesting SF before he went into academia.

I heard somewhere that "Big Trouble in Little China" started out as the BB sequel.
simon
25. simonk1905
@6 Dr_Fidelius.

I am from the UK and I remember this being one of the first VHS cassettes my parents rented when we got our first VCR in the mid 80's.

This is undoubtedly the best 80's sci-fi film in what is a pantheon of great 80's sci-fi. I loved the 80's for it's weird kitcch sci-fi addiction. You had weird science, misfits of science, oxford blues, my science project and many more all great films but Buckaroo Banzai is the best.
Joseph Kingsmill
26. JFKingsmill16
To me, there were three movies that defined 80's SciFi/Geek culture:

1: Real Genius
2: Buckaroo Banzai
3: The Last Starfighter
The novel adaption of BB is a great read and expands on most of the things hinted at in the movie. There are used copies of the paperback available on amazon for less than $3. I can't recomend it enough for people who love the movie.
Jared Garrett
27. mrmeaney
Don't forget the music! As kids, me and my sisters were thoroughly in love with this movie. But easily one of the major highlights was the end credit theme. One of the best pieces of 80s synth ever.
Jared Garrett
28. David A (still)
Yes, a great movie. Wonderfully weird and full of great quotes, AND with great performances across the board.

Yoyodyne actually made its first appearance in a Thomas Pynchon novel "The Crying of Lot 49" in the early 1960s as the quintessential high-tech government contractor.
Danny Bowes
29. DannyBowes
It warms my heart to see so much BB love out there. You guys are swell.
Jared Garrett
30. Abyss
In the original BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA script, Buckaroo Banzai gives Jack Burton a lift.

Maybe.

But rumour has it the unmade WORLD CRIME LEAGUE script was the basis for BIG TROUBLE.

Possibly.
Tim Nolan
31. Dr_Fidelius
@8 mochabean

That one's a keeper!

@25. simonk1905

I like your parents. Mine bought Moonwalker. Once we graduated from Betamax, that is.

I meant to say thank you to Danny Bowes for his lovely post. This film deserves to be known and celebrated by everybody.
Danny Bowes
32. DannyBowes
Oh, and by the way, all of you talking about BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA just clinched it, that's the next picture I'll be writing about for this nebulously-defined new "classics rewatch" series that's basically me just exploiting this forum to write about awesome stuff I love. So stay tuned!
Luis Milan
33. LuisMilan
I remember watching this movie ages ago, and loving it for all its weirdness and great quotes.

And count me as another huge fan of the closing credits music (and video).
Jared Garrett
34. weileong
one thing about this movie - it is very important to catch the very beginning, which sets the "tone" for the rest of the movie. the very first time i saw it, I missed the first few minutes, and for the rest of the movie I was " w...t...f... IS THIS CRAP?!?!".

then I rewatched (was basically forced to do so) and after seeing it from the beginning, I finally "got" how ridiculous (in the funny sense) the whole thing was, and now I really love the movie
Jared Garrett
35. meep
Buckaroo, in the operating room with someone's brain open:
"No, no, no, don't tug on that. You never know what it might be attached to."

On the monitor in the jet car, before 1st run:

Sined
Sealed
Delivered

Lord Whorfin"History is made at night. Character is what you are in the dark"

Black Lectroid at end
"So What... Big Deal"

Great movie. Loved it. Still waiting for the sequel.
Sky Thibedeau
36. SkylarkThibedeau
I love BBanzai
But most Quotable geekfest
Is Galaxy Quest
Skip Ives
37. Skip
This is one of my all-time favorites, and it is a clear example of how good actors can make a movie great. This movie with B-movie actors would not have been nearly as good. Can you imagine getting that cast today for anything like $12M?
Jared Garrett
38. wingracer
Danny, great idea to do a write up on Big Trouble but as someone else mentioned, Real Genius needs some love too. Brilliant movie, Val Kilmer's best role (only Kiss Kiss Bang Bang even comes close), a flying penis stretcher, what more could you want?

"Kent has his name on his license plate."

"My mom does the same thing to my underwear."

"Your mom puts license plates on your underwear, how do you sit?"

And even better...

"And Kent, stop playing with yourself."

"It is God."
Bill Stusser
39. billiam
I love this movie. I saw it as a kid when it was first on cable in the mid 80s with my parents who absolutely hated it. My brother and I, along with our friends, got it though and we quoted it throughout school.

My favorite line, which I still use all the time (in my best Lazardo accent):

Laugh a while you can, monkey-boy, I'mma goin' home =)

Can't wait for your write up of Big Trouble, another one my (and my brother and friends) favorite movies.
Jared Garrett
40. Jaquandor
My day job is in maintenance at a large retail store, so I often have to pry and probe around the innards of various pieces of machinery and equipment. I love to say in such situations, "No no, don't tug on that! You never know what it may be attached to!"
Nick Rogers
41. BookGoblin
At a Dartmouth alumni event in the mid 90's (about the time that Home for the Holidays came out) W.D. Richter was answering an unending stream of questions about Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr (and given the context of the time, that probably makes sense as they were all over the tabloids of the day) but he visibly brightened when someone asked about the unmade Buckaroo Bonzai sequel.

His response was something to the effect that "Carpenter had a horrible 1880's western script, and I had an unsellable script for a Bonzai sequel; and we smashed them together into a martial arts movie over a long weekend and several boxes of take-out. If you imagine everything that Kurt says throughout that movie being played dead straight by Peter...well, you'd still have no idea what I started with."

About ten people laughed, about a hundred people stared at us quizzically.

I imagine a record of that Q. and A. exists somewhere in the Dartmouth repository of obscure event transcripts.
Joe Vondracek
42. joev
I love that movie. It's like a runaway train that somehow manages to stay on the tracks and not derail. Sooooo disappointed that a sequel was never made. And the line that I've always remembered is "It's not my goddamn planet. Understand, monkey boy?"

I'm also a big fan of BTILC, which was a box office flop when it came out and supposedly led to John Carpenter's break with Hollywood. I haven't seen that one in awhile. Might be time to fire up the Pork Chop Express...
James Felling
43. Maltheos
This movie is totally awesome, but I must recomend the novel. The book is every pulp novel ever, boiled down to a concentrated suyrp of awesome.I have spent most of my life wishing (desperately) that someone would do a sequel ( or prequel) to this movie in any media format.
Jared Garrett
44. Sharkey
1) This movie changed my life.

2) "Big Trouble in Little China" did not start as any kind of Banzai tie-in or sequel. It was actually a western written by Gary Goldman and David Weinstein, until John Carpenter asked Banzai director W.D. Richter to modernize it. The obvious Banzai feel comes from Rick's involvement and Carpenter's twisted sense of whimsy. In fandom lore and mythology, the two are now inextricably joined.

3) Did I mention this movie changed my life?
Jared Garrett
45. dwndrgn
I am totally planning an 80s movie marathon at home now...

I haven't seen the fabulous Buckaroo Banzai and the totally unrelated awesomeness of Big Trouble in Little China and Real Genius in AGES. I must fix that soonest.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

(Val Kilmer is also awesomely cheesy in Top Secret)
Jared Garrett
46. Bearpaw
"It flies like a truck."

"Good ... what is truck?"

Also, I know what the watermelon was for. (As does anyone who read the book.). It's actually fairly mundane. Well, at least in comparison it is.

Love the scene with the two redneck hunters.

"What is it?"

"Buckaroo Banzai. It's the latest issue."
Eli Bishop
47. EliBishop
I read the book before seeing the movie, and for a while I was totally convinced that they were both part of a whole series that I just hadn't been able to find. The book basically pretends that this is the case, referring to nonexistent previous adventures in cryptic footnotes (I always wanted to know what the Death Dwarves were). It's more or less a riff on the Doc Savage series, where the all-around awesomeness of the main character and his backup team are just taken for granted and the origin story is kind of an afterthought.
Eli Bishop
48. EliBishop
There really are some Buckaroo Banzai comics, by the way. I've only read the miniseries "Return of the Screw", and... wasn't crazy about it; I kind of wished they'd come up with a totally unrelated story instead of trying to find something else to do with Lizardo and the Lectroids, and a lot of Earl Mac Rauch's dialogue falls flat on the page without the actors to deliver it (i.e. the comic wasn't "directed" as well as the movie). But it had some nice bits, especially the idea that potatoes are really alien biotechnology and can be easily converted into deadly energy weapons.
Debbie Solomon
50. dsolo
Until I was reading the comments, I didn't realize how often my friends and I (and husband) quoted this movie. His favorite quote is "It's not my damn planet, monkey boy!"
Jared Garrett
51. Peter Tupper
I love the villains, and the idea that the military-industrial complex has been infiltrated by aliens for decades, so much so that they build bombers. And their hardware all looks like it was pieced together from a junkyard. Maybe that's how they get all the defense contracts: they underbid.

My favorite bit is when the clueless Secretary of Defense bursts in on Bigboote with Penny Priddy tied up and half naked and about to force a slug-thing into her face, and the Secretary says, "Hey, your personal life is your own, but what about our bomber?"
Andrés David Aparicio Alonso
52. adapar
I just rewatched it (thanks to this post) and loved it again. And I was left with one question: has anyone else noticed the outfits of Doctors 10 & 11 look a lot like Buckaroo's in the press conference and the end credits?
Jared Garrett
53. Johnnyboy
I remember reading a review of BB where the critic descibed John Lithgow's portrayal of Lazardo as Ricky Ricardo on acid.
Classic.
Jared Garrett
54. Miker
I appreciate the thoughtful reflection on a longtime favorite movie. There is so much that is perfect about this film. Even the less quotable dialog is interesting and well written.

I do take exception though with your characterization of the direction as unspectacular. While I agree that the statement is true as far as it goes, it ignores the wonderful production design, props, costumes and set dressing. The last time I watched this movie (just a few weeks ago - it was my pleasure to introduce several friends to it) I didn't pay much attention to the main action. Instead I focused on the corners of the screen, taking in all the marvelous, creative and rich details. The props are beautiful. The set dressing is amazingly detailed. It is visually one of the richest films I can think of in this regard and it is plain to see (if one takes the time) that all departments had fully bough in to the mission.

So while it may be true that the framing and coverage of the action is "workmanline" (which is still much better than a lot of more popular films can claim), to dismiss it without at least mentioning the wealth of detail and creativity evident in the work of the various production departments gives an inaccurate impression of what viewers who are not familiar with the movie can expect to see.

This movie rewards repeated viewings not only because of character moments and wonderful writing, but also because of the many contributions made by the dedicated, talented and skilled production personnel.
Jared Garrett
55. StreetProphet
The actual explaination of the watermelon, from a filmmaking point of view, is given in one of the DVD features. W. D. Richter was convinced the studio execs at Fox were no longer watching the dailies being sent to them. Where just weeks earlier, Richter got into a heated debate about the amount of times Buckaroo could be seen on screen wearing red glasses (heroes don't wear red glasses apparently), there had been absolutely no feedback from the execs at that point of the filming. So Richter decided to throw the watermelon into a scene where it had no business being there, figuring if the execs were in fact viewing the dailies, he'd receive a note asking about the purpose of the watermelon. He heard nothing back, so he assumed that no one was watching the dailies anymore and he had complete creative freedom to finish the film.

Also, Big Trouble in Little China was not in fact a re-worked sequel to Buckaroo Banzai. That rumor has been put to bed by Richter a few times. Richter and screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch had fully intended on working on a sequel, which all of the actors apparently were enthusiastic about doing. However, Buckaroo Banzai was a very ill-fated film from the beginning. 20th Century Fox decided to release it during the first week of the 1984 Summer Olympics, plus the film was competing in the box office with both Ghostbusters and Star Trek III - The Search for Spock. Needless to say, Buckaroo Banzai was considered a box office failure in the eyes of Fox and the studio decided a sequel would not be in their best financial interests.

Also on the subject of financial interests, David Begelman, the chairman of Sherwood Productions, who produced both Buckaroo Banzai, WarGames and Mr. Mom in the early 80s, was a notorious crook who told Banzai's backers that the film would cost $24 million when in fact it was made for just over $12 million. Sherwood eventually went belly up and Begelmen, under investigation for financial wrong-doings, committed suicide in 1995.

As far as a sequel, it's been far too long for any studio to expect any kind of reception for a little-known cult classic that's nearly 30 years old. As recently as 2011, Richter had expressed interest in making the long-awaited sequel. However, MGM, which purchased the rights to Buckaroo Banzai in a package deal and saw decent returns after the re-release of the film on DVD, feared Begelmen might have sold the international rights under the noses of Fox execs and did not want to invest in a film only to realize they did not own the international rights. Apparently, the paper trail to the rights of the Banzai name is very hard to trace. Despite all of that, I have, out of sheer boredom and a frustration over the fact that the character of Buckaroo Banzai lives and dies with the one film and book tie-in, worked on my own screenplay for Buckaroo Banzai. This is not a sequel inasmuch as it's a reboot, a prequel, and a labor of love from a true fan. I have found online a highly unsatisfying script for Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League. I found it disturbingly violent and the script lacked any of the whimsy and charm of Earl Mac Rauch's screenplay for the original Buckaroo Banzai, which I have also read and throroughly enjoyed. By reacquainting myself with the original film, Rauch's screenplay, and the many websites dedicated to Banzai fans like myself, I've created a story about Buckaroo and Hikita making yet another accidental discovery during a Jet Car experiment, with Hanoi Xan and The World Crime League fast on Team Banzai's heels in an attempt to steal the newfound discovery and use it for evil. There's a backstory involving Xan and his past work with Hikita, before Xan disappeared into darkness to form the World Crime League. Buckaroo and Peggy are married only to have Peggy die at the hand of Xan. The character of Perfect Tommy is introduced first as a Blue Blaze Irregular and quickly made a permanent part of Team Banzai after saving Buckaroo's life. Plus, the characters of Pecos and Big Norse (mentioned in the original screenplay but never seen) play a much bigger role, seeing as the one complaint if any I have against Team Banzai is it does seem to be a bit of a boys' club. I'm about 45 pages into it, but diligently working on it as time allows.

Here's my ideal cast for the reboot, if I were ever fortunate enough to get the damn thing produced...

Buckaroo Banzai -- Joseph Gordon-Levitt
(Joseph is a musician as well as being a very talented actor. He looks as if he could be half Japanese, half American as well)

Perfect Tommy -- Justin Timberlake
(Tommy was always the ladies man in the Hong Kong Cavaliers. Timberlake, who is also both a talented musician and actor, would be ideal as the pretty boy of Team Banzai.)

Peggy Jones/Peggy Banzai -- Rachel McAdams
(McAdams has proven herself to be quite the versitile actress, and while she has not played a role similar to the one I created for Peggy, I would love to see her take this on. Peggy is no damsel in distress like Penny Priddy was in the original. She's highly intelligent like Buckaroo and well trained in martial arts. There is a terrific fight scene between her and Hanoi Xan before she is killed, and I can't think of anyone I would rather see take on Xan in a hand-to-hand battle than McAdams.)

Professor Hikita -- Jackie Chan
(Chan so wonderfully took on the character of Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid remake that I was really taken by his performance. This was not the martial arts phenom from the Rush Hour movies, this was a wise old sage who was well versed in the core of martial arts. He seemed to be a perfect mentor for Buckaroo, plus, it gives me the opportunity to write a fight scene between Hikita and Hanoi Xan. Speaking of which...)

Hanoi Xan -- Jet Li
(Li is no spring chicken anymore himself. He's 51 now, and taking beefy yet smaller roles in the Expendables franchise. The idea is to make Li up to be the same age as Hikita. They have a past together before Xan turned to evil, and there's an age-old vendetta at play. Li would bring a strong sense of quiet evil to the character of Xan, who I see almost like a Japanese Keyser Söze, a man so shrowded in mystery that he is almost mythical.)

Sidney Zwiebel/New Jersey -- Seth Rogan
(The role so geekily crafted by Jeff Goldblum in the original is a smaller yet key role in the reboot. Sidney is not yet part of Team Banzai, thus the New Jersey moniker is never mentioned. Rogan seemed to have the perfect blend of geek and Jewish smartass to recreate the character. Sidney is Buckaroo's medical companion, and in my screenplay, the man who presides as minister during Buckaroo and Penny's wedding, clad of course in a bright red cowboy shirt, a ten gallon hat and sheepskin chaps.)

As far as the rest of the Hong Kong Cavaliers, I've cast essentiall musicians. If you recall, Pinky Carruthers was played originally by Billy Vera, of Billy Very and the Beaters (anyone remember "At This Moment"?) Who better to play the hard rocking Cavaliers than rockers themselves?

Rawhide -- Hayes Carll
(Carll is making a name for himself in the country music world as a singer/songwriter after the success of his 2011 release KMAG YOYO. He also wrote several songs for the film Country Strong. Carll is a Texas native and in my opinion, born to play the role of the rugged and loyal Rawhide.)

Pinky Carruthers -- Bruno Mars
(I had not familiarized myself with Mars' music until his appearance as host/musical guest on Saturday Night Live, where I felt he proved himself to be quite the powerhouse. Pinky is not a big role, but Mars' style and good looks make him a natural for a Cavalier.)

Reno Nevada -- Henry Garza
(The stallion maned guitarist for Los Lonley Boys is a perfect fit for Reno, the Hispanic member of Team Banzai. Henry is also a very gothic looking individual, which fits seeing that I have found Reno is the story teller of Team Banzai and secretly is the author and artist behind the Buckaroo Banzai comic books, which have been changed to underground gothic novels in my screenplay.)

Billy Travers -- Jason Mraz
(Billy is a bit of a mystery in the original film, having only a few lines and being the only member of Team Banzai who doesn't use a nickname. I really picked Mraz because his style of the porkpie hat and his laid back personality seems fitting for a Team Banzai member. I haven't really rounded his character out yet, which will probably come in what I'm sure will be many re-writes.)

Pecos -- Brenda Song
(Far removed from her Disney girl image, Song has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Pecos, who is mentioned but never seen in the original, is reported to be a female of Asian decent. Without going into too much detail, I've made Pecos a rather ill-fated character, with a dark secret. After seeing Song's portrayal of the volitile Christy in 2010's The Social Network, I found her to be a perfect choice for the role.)

Big Norse -- Eve Hewson
(The character of Big Norse is only seen in the background of the opening scene of the original film. Though her character had a bit more in the original screenplay and in deleted scenes, it was never a well-rounded character in my opinion. My screenplay doesn't have much involvement with her either, other than the fact that she is another female member of Team Banzai. I only cast Hewson because she's a budding actress, fresh off her critically acclaimed performance in 2011's This Must Be the Place and that she is obviously familiar with the world of rock music, being the daughter of Paul Hewson, a/k/a Bono.)

That's all I have now. I've been very excited working on the screenplay, as I've mapped out the outline and at times it almost seems to be writing itself. Again, I'll probably do nothing more with it than enjoy the work I've done and read it a few times. But if I had the good fortune of getting the film made, I feel I've rounded out a very ecclectic and talented cast. Feel free to add any suggestions or changes.
Jared Garrett
56. M. Mitchell Marmel
"Wherever you go, there you are" is my usual tagline for various online accounts (along with "It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide" from MAD comics, pre magazine era)...

Interesting note: The turbine in the Jet Car was the real McCoy:

http://www.figmentfly.com/bb/institute4.html

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