It’s a strange thing to reach adulthood and see, for the very first time, a film everyone else saw before they hit puberty. For me that film is PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. I’m not going to lie; when I was a kid, Pee-wee really freaked me out. I thought he was creepy and weird and unnecessarily loud. But as part of Tim Burton’s retrospective, MoMA is screening all of his films, starting last night with PEE-WEE, his 1985 feature film debut. After Paul Reubens saw FRANKENWEENIE (a full-length remake is due out in 2011) he chose Burton to direct PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, which had, until that point, been a stage-show at the Roxy in L.A. and of course, an HBO special.

Although PEE-WEE has graced many a “Worst Films” list and I was prepared to leave the theatre unimpressed, I really, really enjoyed it. I can see how his non-sensical world would have scared me as a kid: he’s a man who acts like a child, who has no parents and lives all alone and doesn’t go to school and doesn’t work but has money. I guess I was kind of confused. But seeing it now, it works. It’s clever, and the Pee-wee character and his world is very well written. I actually laughed out loud throughout the film. The Alamo jokes? Priceless! Simone and her ‘big but?’ Hilarious! But the best part is that now I’ll finally get all the pop-culture references.

MoMA will screen Tim Burton’s films (schedule here) as well a special series “Tim Burton and the Lurid Beauty of Monsters,” which begins December 2 and last throughout the exhibition.