Could The Uncut Gems Guys Make A Pee-Wee Herman Movie? Here's The Wild Behind-The-Scenes Story

Paul Reubens in Pee-wee's Big Adventure
(Image credit: (Warner Bros))

With Good Time and Uncut Gems, the Safdie Brothers have asserted themselves as modern icons for their nail-biting, panicky dramas about plummets down the rabbit hole of New York City’s underbelly. But imagine if the next leading man to their filmmaking frenzy was none other than Pee-wee Herman? Word is that the pair of directors are considering it. Seriously!

Paul Reubens, the star behind Tim Burton’s ‘80s hit Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, wants to make a different kind of movie about his bicycle-riding, man-child pop culture icon. He has been trying to make The Pee-wee Herman Story for years. That story would follow the fresh-faced, bow-tie-wearing adventurer getting sent to a mental hospital to undergo shock treatment for his alcoholism. Hey, at least he’d have the furniture to talk to…

According to THR, Paul Reubens has been taking this “dark Pee-wee movie” script all around Hollywood, determined to get it made. He’s reportedly willing to make it for just $15 million. He approached Uncut Gems’ filmmakers Safdie Brothers and they are considering it. Here’s how Paul Reubens describes it, dead serious:

I've referred to it as the Valley of the Dolls Pee-wee movie… It's about fame.

The Pee-wee Herman Story would also follow Pee-wee with hopes to become a yodeling star and Hollywood actor. But once he gets to the city of Angels, he’d get into pills and alcoholism. Not only that, Paul Reubens is inspired by the de-aging technology that Martin Scorsese recently spent big bucks for on The Irishman. In his words:

I was so buoyed by that, I realized, I could do [Pee-wee] for 10 more years if I wanted to. I think I could do it for a while longer, and just fix my face.

Back in 2016, Pee-wee returned for his first feature film in almost 30 years for Netflix. The actor collaborated with the streaming service and Judd Apatow for Pee-wee’s Big Holiday. Initially, even then he wanted to go dark with the character, but Netflix and Apatow weren’t interested in that route. He settled for a comedic comeback at the time, but he believes in this new vision.

For the $15 million he’s settled on, this would mean The Pee-Wee Herman Story would have to made on half the budget of his last movie outing. Uncut Gems cost less than $20 million to make, so maybe the Safdie’s are the right guys for the job. The filmmakers certainly could flesh out Pee-wee Herman’s story into a nightmarish exploration of our childhoods. In Reubens' words:

I do feel like it's going to probably happen. I have a couple of people that are interested. But this is Hollywood. A couple people interested and five bucks will get you five bucks.

One fan is rumored to have showed up at a meeting dressed in Pee-wee attire alongside Paul Reubens to offer up $10 million of his own money to finance the film. Could it happen? Do you want it to? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll below!

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.