The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (1984)



Critic Consensus: Sci-fi parodies like these usually struggle to work, but Buckaroo Banzai succeeds through total devotion to its own lunacy.

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Movie Info

Neurosurgeon, nuclear scientist, and rock 'n' roller, the multi-talented Buckaroo Banzai is called upon save the world from a hostile extraterrestrial invasion in this offbeat science-fiction comedy. The rather loose plot serves as backdrop for a series of bizarrely humorous set pieces, parodying both classic and contemporary sci-fi films.

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Peter Weller
as Buckaroo Banzai
John Lithgow
as Dr. Emilio Lizardo, Lord John Whorfin
Ellen Barkin
as Penny Priddy
Jeff Goldblum
as New Jersey
Christopher Lloyd
as John Bigboote
Robert Ito
as Hikita
Pepe Serna
as Reno Nevada
Ronald Lacey
as President Widmark
Matt Clark
as Secretary of Defense
Clancy Brown
as Rawhide
William Traylor
as Gen. Catburd
Carl Lumbly
as John Parker
Vincent Schiavelli
as John O'Connor
Dan Hedaya
as John Gomez
Mariclare Costello
as Sen. Cunningham
Bill Henderson
as Casper Lindley
Damon Hines
as Scooter Lindley
Billy Vera
as Pinky Carruthers
Laura Harrington
as Mrs. Johnson
Michael Santoro
as Billy Travers
Kent Perkins
as Mission Control
Jonathan Banks
as Lizardo Hospital Guard
Gary Bisig
as Second Radar Blaze
Ken Magee
as Duck Hunter Burt
James Keane
as Duck Hunter Bubba
John Ashton
as Highway Patrolman
Yakov Smirnoff
as National Security Advisor
Leonard Gaines
as Artie Duncan
James Saito
as Dr. Masado Banzai
Jamie Lee Curtis
as Dr. Sandra Banzai
Francine Lembi
as TV Anchorwoman
John Walter Davis
as Star Surgeon
James Rosin
as John Yaya
Radford Polinsky
as Marine Lieutenant
Sam Minsky
as Kolodny Brother
Robert Hummer
as Kolodny Brother
Greg Mires
as Young Buckaroo
Matthew Mires
as Young Buckaroo
Raye Birk
as Reporter
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Critic Reviews for The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (5)

A state-of-the-art spaceship flying at the speed of light without narrative coordinates, Buckaroo Banzai is the very oddest good movie in many a full moon.

August 20, 2008 | Full Review…

Richter's comic genre hybrid comes complete with its own mythology, and team of established superheroes, and is curiously appealing.

August 16, 2007 | Full Review…

It violates every rule of storytelling and narrative structure in creating a self-contained world of its own.

June 5, 2007 | Full Review…

Buckaroo Banzai may well turn out to be a pilot film for other theatrical features, though this one would be hard to top for pure, nutty fun.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/5

Wonderfully fun, albeit markedly chaotic and incoherent.

March 10, 2003 | Full Review…

Dense and complex, this beloved 1984 cult film hits the ground running with its text-based prelude and just doesn't stop, never making an expected choice or pausing to hold the viewer's figurative hand.

September 8, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai in the 8th Dimension is a comic book film without the comic. A pure adventure that harkens back to interstellar heroes such as Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon, fighting aliens with interesting instruments and an even more interesting crew. Comic book films are built to be flashy anyway (at least in this era), but combined with the 1980's era of excess the film explodes as a flashy piece. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) can be classified as the definition of an over achiever. He's a surgeon, physicist, adventurer, and a rock n' roll band front man. He also has a huge following that feels almost cult like in that he is the end all be all of the world. I guess you could compare Buckaroo to a modern day god to be worshipped by this world. When Buckaroo breaks from protocol and ends up passing thru solid matter he encounters an alien race that has been hiding in solid objects, which is really the perfect hiding place if you can pull it off. When news breaks of Buckaroo's exploits Lord John Worfin (John Lithgow), who was a scientist that discovered what lies beneath the atoms but has been possessed for decades breaks free of his room at straight jacket inn and plans to use Buckaroo's tech to raise from the alien raises exile. Throw in representatives from their home planet deliver a message saying that if they can't control the situation they will have to cause Earth to be vaporized in a nuclear holocaust between the current super powers. Buckaroo Banzai has all the ingredients for greatness, but never achieves them. It's a great premise that keeps a viewer engaged, but it doesn't feel like it really goes anywhere. Where the character of Buckaroo Banzai is an over achiever, this film is an under achiever. The acting is average with Lithgow really chewing up the scenery as Worfin. An over the top film that doesn't go over the top, Lithgow's performance wakes up the audience. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's a bit too much. As a whole, the film sort of lumbers along like a way too long 1980's music video. There's a ton of glitz, but the substance is very little. It's not terrible, but not perfect. Not even close. I really wanted to enjoy Buckaroo Banzai. The premise of the film is my kind of film and it is an over blown '80's flick. This film is like a well packaged toy where the box makes you want the product inside, but once you get inside the marketing you get a dull, uninspired experience. On paper you could compare this film to Big Trouble In Little China, but don't be fooled. This is a film that had a ton of potential, yet feels like it's stuck in the mud. An ok film, but disappointing.

Chris Garman
Chris Garman

Super Reviewer


The cult movie that no one initially saw. Of course, this insane mix of Science-fiction, comedy and pretty much everything else did not age well. Even back then there was no budget. The handmade creature and make-up-effects do have a certain charm and are definitely unique. The plot, if you even wanna call it that, may not make all that much sense but it's fun. The movie is already worth checking out to see which star you can spot in it in their early years. The end credits and song are so endearing and fun you instantly want to rewatch it. Everyone was hopeful to start a franchise, which never happened, but we'll always have this insane piece of work.

Jens S.
Jens S.

Super Reviewer


Insane Dr. Lizado and his alien allies try to steal the secret of eighth dimensional travel from neurosurgeon/secret agent Buckaroo Banzai and his band of rock and roll scientists. It's pleasantly campy and crazy and features some great throwaway lines; the one problem is that star Peter Weller is far too reserved to play the larger-than-life Buckaroo. Jeff Goldblum is underutilized as a New Jersey cowboy sidekick; if the casting department had switched Weller and Glodblum's roles they could have made a masterpiece.

Greg S
Greg S

Super Reviewer

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