Just as Netflix has changed how we watch TV programs with their original programming, they are about to change the way we watch movies with their original movies and our family was sent an extra special package to enhance our enjoyment as we watched “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.”

The little ones, of course, lept on the box like a pair of cats pouncing on an unsuspecting mouse and we were soon planning our Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday road trip with Pee-wee’s Big Roadmap. On each step of Pee-wee’s journey, there was a little mystery box with a surprise waiting inside for us and to start our trip in the right way; there was a pair of tee-shirts so the kids could get into character.

Ready for the party
The movie opens on an average day in the idyllic ‘50s-esque suburb of Fairville. Pee-wee is fast asleep, and our kids were fascinated by the super sophisticated mechanical system to get him out of bed and ready for his day, working at the diner. It seems like every other day until, slowly, the people who make up in Pee-Wee’s extended family life tell him how things are changing for them and he is left sad and vulnerable.

Just then Pee-wee’s world is knocked off-axis by the arrival of Joe Manganiello, playing a hunky, beefcake biker named… Joe Manganiello, who rides into town on his steely stallion and sweeps Pee-Wee off his sensible shoe clad feet. Joe is impressed by the scale model of Fairville that Pee-Wee has built and the conversation where it slowly dawns on Joe that Pee-Wee has no idea who is, is very funny indeed. The two form an immediate bond (who wouldn’t want to bond immediately with Joe Manganiello?), and after the first blooms of bromance blossom, the actor gives Pee-wee an invitation to his upcoming birthday party in New York. All that Pee-wee needs to do is leave the confines of the small town he’s always known and hit the road.

However, once Pee-wee decides to go to New York, things become decidedly less smooth for our unlikely hero. The movie is s essentially a collection of funny scenes where Pee-wee runs into various people on his travels. I won’t ruin the movie for you but suffice it to say you’ll love the slightly caricature-like characters who populate the route that Pee-wee takes (or the route that takes Pee-Wee?). A trio of buxom beauties who are also bank robbers, a farmer with nine daughters, all of whom are eager to marry our hero, magnificently coiffed hairdressers in an RV, an uptight Amish community, the list, and the laughs go on & on.

The road map prompted us to open boxes at key points beginning with some fabulous pennants for the kid’s room – just like Pee-Wees.

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We had an invitation to Joe Manganiello’s birthday party and lots of root beer hard candies, which disappeared before they could be photographed.

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We had instruction on how to do Joes chocolate milkshake spoon trick, but I won’t show you the mess we made – instead here are our fun Netflix glasses with milkshake sans mess!

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My only disappointments with the roadmap and the box were that I didn’t get a flick knife engraved with “Freckles” (the younger version of me’s nickname) – this will make sense when you see the movie – and that Joe Manganiello hadn’t really sent me an invitation to his birthday party.

There were many other goodies and many other laughs, but you really should watch the movie yourself. It is a beautifully balanced, ‘parents & kids’ movie and the tone is slightly cartoonish without being childish – imagine the Pee-Wee of your childhood with a hefty dose of Russ Myers, and you’ll get the idea.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this; through all the fun and all the silliness there runs the theme of friendship and what better way to remember an epic movie friendship than the friendship bracelets that were waiting in one of our little boxes.

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If you’re still on the white picket fence over whether or not to watch, here’s the trailer for you to enjoy