Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Who doesn’t love a good Rube Goldberg contraption? A bowling ball rolls down a chute, landing on a bellows, inflating a balloon that pops on a hunting knife, scaring a chicken into laying an egg that weighs down a basket, and well, you get the point. They’re a lot more fun than simply pouring a bowl of cereal or opening a window. And nobody really cared to actually play the rules of Mouse Trap; we all just wanted to trigger the finished product.

Atlas Obscura has assembled an overview of cinema’s more notable Rube Goldberg machines, devices inspired by the 20th-century cartoonist who specialized in drawing ridiculous contraptions that transformed a simple task into an intricate series of chain reactions.

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1930’s Soup To Nuts was written by Rube Goldberg, so you know you’re getting 100 percent authentic gizmos from the original contraptionaire himself.

Making food is a recurring theme in Rube Goldberg movie machines. In Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang (the Dick Van Dyke movie that is not Mary Poppins) a rather unsafe-looking machine helps get the kids their sausage and eggs.

While Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang may have been first to the breakfast table using Goldbergian physics, it’s arguable that Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure has the most well-known Rube Goldberg breakfast machine. Perfectly synchronized with the whimsical abandon flourishing throughout the Herman homestead, Pee-Wee’s breakfast machine sets an impossibly high bar for delightfully pointless chain reactions. And of course, with all the time the machine saves, Pee-Wee can get to the important task of removing facial hair with scotch tape.

For the full list of Goldberg movie machines, including clips from Back To The Future and Delicatessen, visit Atlas Obscura.

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