Let’s just assume you saw the 1991 classic Point Break and like the rest of us realized immediately it was an epic film that would hold up year after year. A young Keanu, top of his game Swayze, a crazy yet pre-insane Gary Busey, scene-stealing John C. McGinley and tough tomboy Lori Petty come together to tell the story of a FBI duo attempting to solve a series of bank robberies committed by a group of thrill seeking surfers who wear presidential mask to hide their identity. It is also about a very special relationship between Keanu’s “Johnny Utah” and Swayze’s spiritual gangster “Bohdi.”
We know. Epic film. If you haven’t seen it, don’t tell anyone. Just go find a VHS copy. Buy a VCR and prepare to watch it several times over. Then when you are done you can finish reading this post about Point Break Live.
Point Break Live (PBL) is the live stage show reenactment of the film with one major, major twist. At each show the actor reenacting Keanu Reeve’s character Johnny Utah is selected from the audience, because as we all know….anyone can act as well as Keanu Reeves. Even an excited audience member who is not an actor or knows any of the lines. It’s Point Break, but funnier.
Last weekend Point Break Live sold out the Belly Up in Solana Beach. We were there to take in the shenanigans. We got there early and snagged a table spot near the front. Unlike music shows, the main floor at the Belly Up had rows of chairs set up. We highly suggest sitting as close to the stage as possible. They were selling poncho kits at the entrance which was definitely a first for any show we’ve attended, theater or otherwise.
The show started promptly at 8pm with the original film’s director Kathryn Bigalow (spoiler alert: not really Kathryn Bigalow) explaining to us how the new Keanu would be picked. At our show there was a pretty clear winner. He was shorter than Keanu, but otherwise he fucking nailed his audition. Then the reenactment started, and PBL took us on a creative journey the likes of which you probably haven’t experienced before.
To help the unprepared audience member playing Johnny Utah a cast member was assigned the responsibility of feeding him his lines and guiding his action. Unlike the original in the PBL version Johnny Utah is in on the joke that he isn’t that great of an actor. Every other character plays it straight. Well, an over-the-top crazy version of the original already over-the-top crazy characters.
The actor playing Gary Busey’s “Pappas” steals almost every scene he is in. he has the Busey mannerisms with the added bonus of a suspicious white dust cloud emanating from his every exaggerated movement. The crew playing Bohdi’s Dead Presidents gang takes their special tribe-like connection to another level and the actress playing the love interest, Tyler, makes you believe you’re watching a hilarious Rachel Dratch character from Saturday night live.
At the show we saw the audience member playing Keanu was so good we thought he might be a plant. Even if he was we probably wouldn’t care. Turns out he was just that good. The voice and mannerisms were on point. We followed up with PBL did some digging on the internet, and sure enough, there is some photo evidence showing all of the different Keanu’s from all the shows.
Unlike most stage shows Point Break Live isn’t confined to the stage. The entire Belly Up venue was used. Point Break the film was filled with extreme action beyond surfing including sky diving, police chases and serious gunplay during the bank robberies. PBL manages to get them all in. Don’t worry about how. Just know that there will be spurting blood, spurting sun tan lotion and hostages will be taken.
Adding to the hilarity of the show was the audience itself. Those of us who’ve loved Point Break over the years are a special breed. The show put a ton of energy out towards the crowd and they gave it right back. Cheering, shouting out a line or two and generally just emitting those positive SoCal vibes.
PBL has been selling out shows all over the country for several years and with good reason. Point Break Live at the Belly Up was the most entertained we’ve been all year. And that is coming from a crew that went to an Anchorman-themed beer festival last July. They will be back at the Belly Up in January. You should go, and think about getting that poncho.