Today in Movie History: July 26

I was the exact wrong age for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when it first came out: 13 and oh so ready to stop being a kid. But every other age should be delighted by Pee-Wee’s ramshackle journey to find his beloved bicycle: reminding us in his unique Pee-Wee way to look at the world the way a child does from time to time. And on a film geek level, it’s fascinating to watch what the director (some cat named Burton) could do when the studios weren’t fire-hosing money at him. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure opened today in 1985.

Little Miss Sunshine was one of those movies that made the entire mini-majors movement of the early 2000s worthwhile. A novel concept (child beauty pageants) turns into a wise and insightful commentary on how we too often allow others to shape our identities, and how the people who love you the most are the ones who back you even when they really, really, really don’t want to. And what can we say? Abigail Breslin + Rick James = pure movie magic. Little Miss Sunshine opened today in 2006.

We’ll close with The Wolverine, arguably the best of the entire X-Men cycle and the first stand-alone Wolverine movie that the character truly deserves. Taking Logan’s celebrated travels to Japan as inspiration, director James Mangold devises a sleek action thriller with only incidental connections to larger-than-life comic books, along with Hugh Jackman’s perfect turn as the character and a villain who — in his own way — may be the first truly evil figure we’ve seen in the X-Men cinematic universe. The Wolverine opened today in 2013.


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