The Hermanator

At the theater with Paul Reubens

Prozac and Zoloft are all well and good if you're feeling perpetually down in the dumps. But if you want a little serotonin boost without a prescription (or dry mouth, sexual dysfunction and insomnia), we recommend a little dose of Pee-wee Herman, the skinny, gray-suited, red-bowtied manchild whose work in the '80s lit up television (Pee-wee's Playhouse stands as one of the most brilliantly surreal programs children's television has ever seen) and movie theaters. A hero to children and adults alike, Pee-wee (actor Paul Reubens) was a big boost of joy, a dose of unfettered pleasure.

Pee-wee was already semifamous when he signed on to star in a movie, but the director he chose, Tim Burton, wasn't, and for that we owe actor Reubens; Burton's feature-length debut delivered not just a story to support Pee-wee's persona; in the process, the director created a singular, vivid world which opened the doors for those other classic Burton worlds -- Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands and Batman.

And boy does Pee-wee revel, especially atop his love, a glorious red-and-white bike -- one that shoots smoke, is jet-powered and automatically regenerates missing handlebars. Then -- horror of horrors! -- the bike is stolen, and the Big Adventure begins, taking our hero on a cross-country trip during which he meets ghost truckers, francophile waitresses and Harley gangs (the last of whom lead to one of cinema's funniest achievements -- Pee-wee dancing on a bar in white platform shoes to the tune of "Tequila"). Pee-wee's Big Adventure is big fun and totally worth $6 and a late-night trek to the Tivoli Theatre (6350 Delmar Boulevard, 314-862-1100), where it shows at midnight Fridays and Saturdays, June 13-21. -- Randall Roberts

Cinema Fresco

MON 6/16

"Dinner and a movie" doesn't have to mean burgers and the horrors of the multiplex; it can also be a three-course meal and a classic film. Bar Italia (13 Maryland Plaza), with help from the Webster University Film Series, is screening three Italian-themed movies on the restaurant's outside patio, with a three-course dinner included in the evening. Tonight, $35 buys you dinner (drinks cost extra) and a ticket for the Gregory Peck/Audrey Hepburn romantic drama Roman Holiday instead of the usual soda and large popcorn. Seating begins at 6 p.m., and the movie starts at sundown. In the event of rain, come back Monday, June 23, for a do-over. Call 314-361-7010 for reservations. -- Paul Friswold

Where's Clark?

They've scheduled a bank robbery for this weekend in the town of Metropolis, Illinois, near the southern tip of the state, but don't worry -- Superman plans to get there in time to save the day. The 25th annual Superman Celebration, held in the town with the same name as the comic-book hero's hometown, features the "Superman Drama," a passion play in which the leotarded Kryptonian comes to the rescue. Visitors will also enjoy live music, a costume contest, carnival, film festival, collectibles market, celebrity appearances and the fifteen-foot statue of the Ubermensch Thursday-Sunday, June 12-15, in Metropolis (from St. Louis, head east on I-64, south on I-57 and south on I-24; 800-949-5740, www.supermancollectors.com). -- Byron Kerman

Spy in the House of Commerce

TUES 6/17

Suppose you could actually get paid to eat out, or -- miracle of miracles -- get reimbursed and even paid for repairing your car. Great news: Dr. Ilisha Newhouse has written a textbook, Mystery Shopping Made Simple, to introduce shopaholics to the world of paid undercover retail shoppers who gather info for businesses. Barnes & Noble-Des Peres (11952 Manchester Road, 314-984-8644, 7 p.m.) is the rendezvous point for Newhouse's free training seminar. To quote Dr. Shopper, "Mystery shopping will not make you rich, however, it will improve your quality of life and provide a newfound freedom and alternative to working at the corporate machine." In other words, no more cubicles for you! -- Alison Sieloff

 
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