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10 Ways 'Buckaroo Banzai' Has Infiltrated Pop Culture [Movies]

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension is a sci-fi comedy that is the definition of a cult classic, and is a true love-it or hate-it movie. Among the most vocal fans is Kevin Smith, who held a screening for Buckaroo Banzai, and called it one of the most influential movies of his life. But there are a lot of other Blue Blaze Irregulars out there, and many of them have put their love of Banzai into their work. Here are 10 examples of how Buckaroo Banzai has made its way into various movies and TV shows in pop culture.

10. Back to the Future - Neil Canton (producer), Dennis Jones (production manager) and Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) all worked on Buckaroo Banzai before working on Back to the Future, which may be why there are a lot of references to BB. The most well-known is the flux capacitor, which (with its triangular display and moving lights) closely resembles the lighted readout for the oscillation overthruster. The flux capacitor is even placed in the same location in the Delorean as the oscillation overthruster was in Buckaroo's jet car - over the left shoulder of the driver. The car also has to get up to 88 miles an hour, which is a frequently-used number in Buckaroo Banzai (because 88 looks like "BB").

9. Into the Night - This romantic comedy stars Jeff Goldblum, who also appeared in Buckaroo Banzai, makes his own sly reference to this movie. At one point he holds up his thumbs and yells, "Banzai!" In case it's not obvious enough, the movie also plays the three notes of the oscillation overthruster in the background.

8. Men in Black - Another popular movie that referenced Buckaroo Banzai was the alien immigration sci-fi movie, Men in Black. At one point, Edgar the Bug calls Agent K, "monkey boy." This was also a derogatory term used by the Red Lectroids to refer to humans in Buckaroo Banzai.

7. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome - In the post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max is captured and imprisoned. There, he meets a fellow prisoner nicknamed Pigkiller. At one point, Pigkiller says the line, "No matter where you go, there you are." That's a famous philosophical quote from Buckaroo Banzai himself.

6. Fight Club - In the post-existential comedy about an ordinary man who starts a bare-knuckles fighting group, we hear a PA announcement for a phone call for John Bigboote. John Bigboote is one of the evil Red Lectroids in Buckaroo Banzai. Just don't pronounce it "John Bigbooty." He hates that.

5. Angel - In the TV show Angel, a good vampire battles supernatural forces, including one of his most fearsome enemies, the evil interdimensional law firm Wolfram and Hart. In one episode, a narrator lists the firm as having a client called Yoyodyne. Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems is the company run by the evil Red Lectroids in Buckaroo Banzai.

4. The Life Aquatic - Lots of BB fans have noticed similarities to Buckaroo Banzai in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic. Zissou has a team of experts called Team Zissou, much like Buckaroo had his Team Banzai.  Jeff Goldblum appears in both movies, and wears a cowboy outfit in both. But the undeniable similarity comes in the closing credits, where the cast of the movie comes together and walks along the docks in time with the music. According to Wes Anderson, this was a direct reference to the closing credits of Buckaroo Banzai, where the cast does the same thing.

3. The Brady Bunch Movie - In the movie parody of the original Brady Bunch TV show, the father Mike Brady often dispenses pearls of wisdom. At one point, he says, "A wise man once said, 'No matter where you go, there you are.'" That wise man is Buckaroo Banzai.

2. Babylon 5 - In the classic TV series set around a space station, there was an unspoken battle against Star Trek. Star Trek made numerous references to Banzai. Not to be outdone, Babylon 5 had its own homage to Buckaroo Banzai. It shows up in an episode where G'Kar hands Mr. Garibaldi an engine piece from his Starfury. The piece is none other than the oscillation overthruster.

1. Star Trek - To list all the ways that Star Trek referenced Buckaroo Banzai could be an article all by itself - in fact, there is an article on it  at the Star Trek wiki, Memory Alpha. The crew of Star Trek are known fans of BB, and included a ton of references to the movie, but we'll only touch on some of the big ones here. The oscillation overthruster prop pops up numerous times, including as a "spectral analyzer" in an episode of The Next Generation, an engine component in the Phoenix in Star Trek: First Contact, and Picard's Borg arm component in "Best of Both Worlds." On the promenade of Deep Space Nine, signs indicate that two tenants are the Banzai Institute and Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems. On Next Generation, there's a listing of a starship called the USS Buckaroo Banzai and the USS Whorfin appears in The Undiscovered Country, as well as a whole Whorfin-class of starships. And pretty much anywhere there's a sign on the construction of a starship, including the dedication plaque for the Enterprise, it says the ship was built by Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems.

UPDATE 1/24/2013: There seems to be some confusion about the phrase "No matter where you go, there you are." It's true that Buckaroo Banzai did not originate the expression. It's based on a quote by Confucius. While it's possible that other movies are referring to Confucius instead of Buckaroo Banzai, it's unlikely. First of all, the original quote from Confucius is, "Wherever you go, there you are." Whenever anyone uses the phrasing "No matter where you go, there you are," they're quoting Buckaroo Banzai, whether they know it or not. Second of all, the phrase had never appeared in American cinema before Buckaroo Banzai in 1984, followed by its second appearance in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome in 1985, just one year later. Coincedence? I think not.

What did you think of the list? Have you ever noticed any of these references? Where else have you seen Buckaroo Banzai?

[Image Source: billwardwriter.com]

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  1. I learned my lesson about disparaging that movie on this blog.

  2. That many? Still not a fan of the movie.

  3. I'm a fan. But not as big a fan as the people on this list!

  4. I think the quote is Confucious, used by Buckaroo. It was a great film. ;)

  5. funny, i love this film and now i wish that they would re-make, redo... maybe a jr.

  6. Yes, the original quote by Confucius was "Wherever you go, there you are."

  7. "No matter where you go, there you are" is a Confuscist saying. Pigkiller was quoting Buddha most likely, not BB.

  8. I have no idea who Confuscus might be, but I'm pretty sure neither Confucius nor the Buddha said anything of the sort.

  9. I'm not sure where the quote is really from. I do know that I heard it years before BB. As much as I love this movie, it did not originate the saying.

  10. no, it wouldn't be.

    that's trying to catch lighting in a bottle, twice.

    the beautiful thing about this film is that it came out of nowhere.

    it would be like remaking Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  11. The original quote by Confucius was "Wherever you go, there you are."

  12. Neil Patrick Harris is Buckaroo Banzai in Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League.

    That is All.

  13. The Film ConnoisseurFebruary 13, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    Also, the aliens in the first Men In Black jump really high, same as the fence jumping aliens in Buckaroo BAnzai!

  14. Did you notice how the laser Lizardo used in the flashback looks similar to the laser in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids?"


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