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The Last Movie Pee-Wee Herman's Paul Reubens Was In Before He Died

Following successful stage acts featuring his endearing comic persona Pee-wee Herman, actor Paul Reubens and director Tim Burton's "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" helped skyrocket the actor into international stardom. Not only did he follow up the cult classic with the hit TV show "Pee-wee's Playhouse" that ran from 1986 to 1990, but he also found roles in other notable films such as "Batman Returns," "The Nightmare Before Christmas," and "Mystery Men." The actor's final movie role before his death on June 30 the age of 70 fittingly saw Reubens take one final bow as his most iconic character. 

Released on Netflix in March 2016, "Pee-wee's Big Holiday" introduced Reubens' flagship role to a new generation. The film's plot sees Pee-wee, after a fateful run in with actor Joe Manganiello, embark on his first ever vacation to New York City to attend Manganiello's birthday. Along the way, he encounters a wide array of zany situations and characters. The second "Pee-wee" sequel after the much-maligned "Big Top Pee-wee," critics unanimously agreed that "Holiday" was a step up in quality compared to the 1988 flick. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a Fresh Tomatometer score of 80%, with the site's consensus reading, "The simple story is a little short on laughs, but there's plenty of sweet wackiness for Pee-wee Herman fans to enjoy." 

Reubens' lovably energetic performance and the movie's heartwarming message of not fearing new experiences made "Holiday" the perfect film to cap off Pee-wee's cinematic career. And some believe that there's more to the movie than meets the eye. 

Some consider the film to be a queer allegory

Debate has persisted for years regarding the sexuality of both Paul Reubens himself and his iconic character Pee-wee Herman. Many have pointed out the feminine traits presented by Pee-wee, the many innuendos present in "Pee-wee's Playhouse," and the several queer icons who appeared on his series such as Little Richard, Dinah Shore, and Cher as reasoning behind this notion. Reubens himself never confirmed nor denied any theories, saying in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter,  "And I don't plan on it. It just takes all the fun out of it."

The release of "Pee-wee's Big Holiday" brought this conversation into circulation once again, with many believing that Pee-wee's attraction to men in the film goes far beyond simple subtext. The affection Pee-wee feels for the rugged and handsome Joe Manganiello throughout the movie can only be defined as a crush. From the enthusiasm he shows in serving Manganiello a milkshake to a rainbow-saturated fantasy sequence where the two are jousting to the ending where Pee-wee gleefully takes a ride on the actor's motorcycle, it's hard to pass off Pee-wee's feelings as anything else but romantic. 

The outwardness of this depiction has resonated with many fans who have long identified with Reubens' quirky character. As Slate's Paul Johnson wrote at the time, "Seeing him camp around in 2016 gave me a kind of closure, for Pee-wee finally, in his own way, grows up and meets the root beer barrel candy-loving man of his dreams."