by: Michael Shields
Immerse yourself in a cult classic……
Immediately upon entering the theater you are handed a “survival kit,” and anyone who accepts this offering with the assumption that it is simply a novelty or gift schwag, is sorely mistaken. No, these items, consisting of earplugs, a rain poncho and counterfeit money, are all items you will require for the journey before you. It would be prudent to gear up immediately, for the experience you are about to immerse yourself in is an interactive roller-coaster of a ride. Such is Point Break Live, a staged parody of the 1991 film classic, created by Jaime Keeling.
Point Break Live is, essentially, the theatrical equivalent to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It attempts to remake Kathryn Bigelow’s cult smash from start to finish, including the bank heists by the Ex-Presidents, the audacious car chases, and the thrilling, climatic sky-diving scene. It is an homage to one of the finer films of the 90’s, and one helluva night at the theater.
The writers and producers of Point Break Live get it. They understand the true appeal of the film, and what is going to breathe life into their production. With this show the iconic lines from the film (“The name’s Johnny Utah!,” “Bohdi! This is your wake-up call I AM AN F…B…I…AGENT!,” etc.) get the star treatment. They are led up to with surgical precision, and function as the peak of a flurried crescendo of dialogue, often chanted in unison by the actors and crowd alike. I can think of few movies that have this many catchy and enduring lines1, ones that are ingrained in the psyche of a generation; quotes that have become a part of our language and incite a smile upon their mere mention.
And this is why bringing Point Break to life in this fashion works. It’s a movie that resonated perfectly with its fans. An action film, that as a youngster quickened your pulse, but as time moved on, and you grew up, it became apparent that it was much more than just an adrenaline junkie’s dream – it was a hilarious film. Point Break featured iconic performances from Swayze, Reaves, and Busey2 that highlighted just how good they can be, and in some ways just how bad. One-liners that are almost too good to be true are delivered with such sincerity and intensity that they became unforgettable instantly. Consistently stylish, remorselessly over-the-top, cheesy beyond belief, and entertaining as can be, Point Break was a beach bromance that has improbably risen to cult status. And Point Break Live has bottled up all that fun and vigorously shaken it up, unleashing its fury upon the laughing, poncho-clad audience.
Point Break Live is crass, raunchy, loud, and outrageous – but it’s nothing if not fun. It’s as much of a house party as it is an evening at the theater. And what’s more, it is entirely interactive. So much so that to begin each performance the role of Johnny Utah, Keanu Reeve’s character, is cast from the crowd performing wholly unrehearsed and reading their lines from cue cards delivered by a production assistant. Sounds crazy, right? It is, just so crazy that it works!
Something that is made abundantly clear as you first saunter into the theater, past the small stand selling meatball sandwiches at intermission (“Utah! Get me two!”), is that “you are not here to see a movie…you are here to be in a movie!” You are there to walk down memory lane, immersing yourself in a film that resonates so deeply with so many of us. It is possible you will walk away from Point Break Live with your ears ringing and slightly saturated, but this is only a mere inconvenience. Like Bodhi disclosed to his his young apprentice Johnny Utah, “If you want the ultimate, you gotta be willing to pay the ultimate price!”
Point Break Live plays this Friday, November 1st at Littlefield in Brooklyn and in Los Angeles at Dragonfly this Saturday and Sunday night.