Inspo: Andrew Allen's 'Point Break'

Anthony Acosta

Pro skater Andrew Allen is a devoted fan of the Kathyrn Bigelow film "Point Break." He does occasionally enjoy surfing, but has never even considered committing a crime in order to fund this activity.

You're probably not reading simply because you're seeking accurate, up-to-the-minute information about the latest sponsor shift or who landed what trick when. You're also reading because skateboarders (and their action-sports brethren) are among the most interesting and creative people on Earth, and they often have interesting things to say about the books, films and other artwork that have helped inspire them to become the most interesting and creative people on Earth. (After all, skateboarders are, in many ways, artists.) With that in mind, we're launching this series, "Inspo," in which we speak to a skateboarder about a piece of media that has inspired them.

It wasn't just the scene where a gun-wielding Keanu Reeves chases Patrick Swayze through the back streets of Los Angeles, the latter wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. It wasn't just the scene where Swayze (surfer/grand larcenist "Bodhi") prevails upon Reeves (FBI agent "Johnny Utah") to allow him to catch one last monstrous wave, the wave that will surely kill him. Nor was it even the scene where Reeves plunges out of a plane without a parachute in order to apprehend Swayze, who, sensibly, does have a parachute. Rather, it was all of these elements -- melodramatic, kitschy and mystical -- that made pro skater Andrew Allen fall instantly in love with "Point Break."

More than a decade after spending an unusually exhilarating childhood afternoon watching the 1991 neo-noir film on TV for the first time, Mr. Allen's ardor has hardly dimmed.

"I was 10 or 12 years old the first time I saw it .... It gave you a fire. It got you sparked," the hard-charging Antihero-sponsored skater recently told by phone. "Obviously it's got a pretty insane plot. It's about some surfers who are trying to rob banks in order to fund their perfect trips in order to get good waves. Patrick Swayze was one of the best actors, may he rest in peace. Keanu Reeves is pretty funny because he has the same face all the time. It's not a comedy, but I think 'Point Break' is very funny, myself."

It comes as little surprise that Allen can quote any number of key lines on command ("I would never do anything to hurt Tyler. We shared time!") or that he owns his share of "Point Break" memorabilia: a framed photograph of Swayze and Reeves, a VHS and DVD copy of the film, a T-shirt with Swayze's face on it that says, "Bodhi Rips." The graphic on Allen's first pro deck paid winking homage to the film's famous shower scene, and in 2009 Allen was hand-picked by the cast of "Point Break Live," a tounge-in-cheek theatrical re-enactment of the film put on at Los Angeles' Dragonfly Theater, to play Johhny Utah during the show.

But let's play devil's advocate here: Is "Point Break" truly worthy of this degree of devotion? Despite receiving a number of positive reviews at the time of its release -- Roger Ebert called it "surprisingly effective" -- critical opinion was certainly not unanimous.

As an experiment, this reporter read aloud the following excerpt from this scathing Washington Post review to Allen:

"Point Break" may be one of the most lamely plotted pictures since "Blue Steel," Bigelow's last film. To keep the movie in motion, the filmmakers have their characters make the most ludicrously illogical choices imaginable .... Bigelow's picture is a feast for the eyes, but we watch movies with more than our eyes .... She seduces us, then asks us to be bimbos.

There was a stony silence on the other end of the line. This reporter mentally prepared for a barrage of unquotable invective, death threats, the smash/click of a flung phone. But, to our pleasant surprise, Allen, instead of becoming belligerent, offered a judicious comment on the innately subjective nature not just of "Point Break," but of aesthetic experience itself.

"I mean, in a way that's kind of true," said Allen magnanimously. "There is a lot of ridiculous stuff in it. I mean, whatever ... Anyone can have their own opinions on how they feel about something. It all comes down to what you get out of it, how you feel about it. If you like it yourself, and it means something to you, and it makes you feel a certain way that you like, then no one can take that away from you. That's yours."

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