Episode 49: Point Break (1991)

Film chosen by Gali, introduced by Devlin

Among the many, many pleasures of Point Break, one major standout has to be that it contains one of the defining performances of Full Busey. Gary Busey is a very strange man. From his early breakthrough in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and his garlanded turn as bespectacled nerd rock pioneer Buddy Holly, Busey’s 1970s saw a steady accumulation of well-regarded performances that also included cult surf classic Big Wednesday, surely an inspiration for his casting here. Moving in to the ’80s, a few decent support and character roles culminated in a high profile villain slot in Richard Donner’s runaway buddy cop smash Lethal Weapon, but his victory lap was cut short by a terrible motorcycle crash in 1988, which required life-saving brain surgery. Post-accident, the already livewire Busey lost any hint of social filters and, coupled with a pretty de rigueur period-appropriate intake of prescription and illicit drugs, Hollywood was now graced with a true, wild, free-spirited oddity as Busey’s performances and off-set behaviour spun off in to an entirely different plane of existence.

Point Break sits among a run of bizarre, fascinating action movie support slots that also includes Under Siege and the sight of a fully dragged up Busey shaking his moneymaker for a warship full of sailors, and Predator 2 as the alien-hunting foil to Danny Glover’s sweaty, large-trousered L.A. cop. As the 90s wore on, major film roles started to dry up as the increasingly difficult Busey became more trouble than his marquee name was worth. Falling in to gimmicky cameos and genuinely unsettling and cheap DTV fare like the infamous Busey-is-a-dog kids movie Quigley, Busey eventually found a second wave of ‘fame’ as a walking meme machine following the cult Comedy Central series I’m With Busey. The show, a kind of hybrid mockumentary, sees “lifelong fan” Adam de la Peña befriend Busey and chase around after him, receiving life lessons and pearls of barely comprehensible wisdom from the grizzled actor. It was a relatively minor hit, but set up the latest phase of his career.

From hereon, Busey bounced around the strange hinterland of the post-fame celebrity punchline, getting in to fights on Celebrity Apprentice and infuriating his fellow inpatients on Celebrity Rehab by claiming to be part of the team of counsellors and hounding them with more of his stream-of-consciousness inspirational nonsense. It’s hard to know quite how to feel about all this: it’s sad seeing him trotted out like a sideshow attraction, yet he attacks all of this garbage with such a zealous conviction and wide-eyed glee that to deny him the spotlight would also seem like a cruelty. Plus, as guilty as the laughs may be, Gary Busey is utterly hilarious. So absent any moral fretting, we present for your viewing pleasure a playlist compiled by Busey superfan Matt of our Gary’s weirdest and most remarkable drivel. Remember: your imagination is the hood ornament on your car of creativity.

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