The KOTC Archives
Send To a Friend!
Print This Adventure!

What Do You Think?

Join our Kids Off The Couch community to share your family’s favorite activities and to talk about how media impacts all of our kids’ lives.

View Blog

A Visit to the Winner's Circle

Secretariat + Santa Anita Park


A Chicken in Every Pot

Julie and Julia + Touring the Original Los Angeles Farmers' Market

Please visit our new website, The Family Savvy, a resource for parents with ticket giveaways, movie and book reviews, parenting news and all things cultural in Los Angeles.




Tell us what you think of our site!

Shop KOTC!
KOTC Gear!
L.A. Popcorn Adventure #138
August 06, 2009

Teens Off the Couch: Tell the Teacher We're Surfin'

Point Break + Hittin' the Coast

Point Break, starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze and directed by Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow, is a classic 90's surfer-action flick that takes place right here in the bohemian beach towns of Los Angeles.  The film, both comedic and suspenseful, follows undercover FBI agent, ex-pro football player Johnny Utah, as he tries to infiltrate a band of local surfers who are suspected to moonlight as the "Ex-Presidents," a group of masked bank robbers who have been sticking up banks to pay for their breezy lifestyle.  Following quirky cues like surf wax and sand left behind at crime scenes, Utah begins to pick up on the surfers' scent.  As Johnny goes deeper undercover he bonds with Bodhi, the leader of the pack played by Patrick Swayze, and falls in love with his adrenaline-junkie lifestyle.  Between botched bank jobs and kidnappings, we see straight to the heart of this film, which ultimately proves to be about loyalty, camaraderie, and a simple love for riding waves. For something a little less racy and with a bit more island spirit, we also recommend Blue Crush, starring Kate Bosworth as a hardcore beach babe struggling to overcome a traumatic surfing injury and regain her title as woman's surfing champ.

Our kids were stoked to hit the waves after the awe inspiring adrenaline boost and athleticism of their on screen alter egos--the white water was practically calling their names.  It didn't take much encouragement for our teens to organize a group to head up the PCH for a 2-hour group lesson in the basics of wave riding (Of course, the logistics were left to the parents). We called our local surf shop and hired an instructor for a cram session in all things surfing.  The surf shop streamlined the process-- the instructor brought boards, wet suits and just the right surfer "dude" vibe to push our teens to take some risks. After a thorough water safety talk, and some beachside pop-up practice, they hit the waves -- sometimes, literally! But, our trainees came up smiling, wanting to try again and again.  Hours were spent in the water, practicing the balance and timing that allows for a few blissful seconds of sitting on top of the world.  Our kids play all kinds of sports, from football to volleyball, but both agree that there is nothing like becoming one with the ocean.  Seeing the look of satisfaction on our kids' faces after a successful first lesson was a pleasant reminder of how blessed we are to live by the sea, and almost made the trail of sand tracked through the house worthwhile!

Film Title: Point Break
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
1991, Rated R, 120 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:

  • Why It's Worth It: This film is a perfect August treat, inspiring our teens to seize the last few weeks of summer before school creeps up.  We love the boyish charm of the now grown up A-list stars Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, and were totally impressed by their boarding skills.  Boys will be sold on the action and fight scenes, not to mention, envious of the ease with which Bodhi's gang takes to the waves.  We think that while some of the movie's more meaningful content is masked beneath a facade of machismo and constant brawling, a major takeaway from this classic is the brotherhood and camaraderie nurtured by the surf culture, and the extreme passion and love that the gang has for surfing and for the ocean.
  • Red Flags: The film is rated R due to violence and language.  Though there is gunplay and bloodshed, the film is from 1991, so it is not extremely frightening or vivid.  The film also deals with light sexual content, including several scenes that allude to sex.  We definitely recommend this film for the older teen demographic, and should not be shown to viewers that might respond negatively to the home invasion scene or hostage situations.
  • Further Viewing:  Blue Crush is the perfect teen surfing movie starring Kate Bosworth and Michelle Rodriguez. The film beautifully captures the island spirit, the competitiveness of the women's surfing world, and the hardships faced by a young woman growing up without parents and struggling to take care of her younger sister.   Step Into Liquid and Riding Giants are idyllic portrayals of surf culture, featuring historical information about surfing through the ages, and all around enjoyable action shots. Click here to see previous KOTC adventures for Step Into Liquid and Riding Giants.

Our tips for talking with your kids about the film:

  • Cinema Savvy: Obviously, we don't want our teens getting the idea that breaking the law is somehow okay--just because there something you want the money for!  Remind your kids that the rebellious lifestyle of Bodhi and the boys is not the norm in the surfing community, which is actually deeply founded in pacifism and spirituality.  As a matter of fact, many surfers regard the body as a sacred temple, and abstain from alcohol and other toxins in favor of a wholesome, healthy routine.  We think the underlying theme in this film that makes it so worth while, is that despite its thrill-seeking, trouble-making protagonists, the driving force is the intense gravitational pull they feel toward the ocean, which we would love our city kids to have a little more of. 
  • Surfing Savvy:  Popular culture has coined surfing as the ultimate beach bum past-time, but the sport actually has rich tradition and history dating back to ancient hawaiians who relied on the Kahunas (high priests) to pray for surfable conditions.  Locals would perform rituals and dances in order for the gods to bestow them with waves, and surfing was considered to be not only the ultimate form of exercise, but also a means of conflict resolution, where competitions would be held in order to settle issues of debt, physical strength, pride, and even romance.
  • Earth Savvy: Surfers share a unique connection with the ocean and its majestic creatures.  Many species of whales, dolphins, and sharks are in danger of extinction due to fishing and whaling industries. Surfers for Cetaceans is a non-profit started by a professional surfer, to raise money for efforts to protect and preserve marine wildlife.  Click here to learn more about the organization and how you can get involved.


Learn to Surf

Malibu Surfing Association Classic: September 12-13
Heal the Bay's Coastal Clean Up Day: September 19

Age Recommendation: 14 and up
Time Allotment: Hours and hours of fun

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure:

  • What Worked for Us: Even though the kids are old enough that they don't want us peering over their shoulders, we can't help but feel nervous about them running free in the water with unpredictable variables like riptides and dangerous beach breaks. A good surf instructor will advise the group on safety tips as well as push the board from behind to help them get up for their first few rides. It's worth the extra money for peace of mind, and it also speeds up the learning curve. A surf party is a great sweet-sixteen event, or christmas present--only in Los Angeles!
  • Before You Go: Do as real surfers do and check the waves and weather at Before you send the clan off for the day, beware that surfing is not allowed at all beaches. You can surf on-line before you surf the waves to check out what areas (usually designated by lifeguard stands) will let you ride. Click here for Santa Monica beaches.
  • Two Great Surf Outfitters: We've used both Malibu Makos and ZJ Boarding House. They are both easy to deal with, and professional. Costs vary depending on time, how many boards you need to rent and how many surfers will be in the ocean. Your location will determine which outfit you hire (ZJ handles Santa Monica-area surfers and Malibu Makos likes to surf farther North). There are no shortage of instructors, so we suggest you do a little price surfing.

Our tips for extending this Adventure:

  • Surfing Contest: Cruise up to Malibu next month and watch the Malibu Surfing Association's Classic Invitational at Surfrider Beach (September 12-13). We've never been, but the chance to watch over 275 elite surfers, of all ages and levels of skill, competing sounds too cool to skip out on. Click here for a link to the event schedule. All profits from the event will be donated to local charities, including Heal the Bay and The Surfrider Foundation.
  • Heal the Bay's Coastal Cleanup Day: Join thousands of volunteers and help clean up the beach Saturday, September 19 from 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. The Coastal Cleanup Day is billed as "the largest volunteer day on the planet" as is observed in 50 US states and 88 countries around the world.  We are blessed to have such a healthy coastline, let's keep it that way! Tell your friends and family to hit the beach for a cause.
  • Surf Museums: If your kids love the water, here are a few museums they will enjoy: The California Surf Museum in Oceanside and the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach.
  • Girls Who Ride:  Dear & Yonder is a brand new surf movie created by Tiffany Campbell and Andria Lesser, chronicling the lives of established female pro surfers and and little-known newbies working their way up in the dog-eat-dog world of competitive surfing.  The doc screens in Hermosa beach on August 14, and in San Clemente on August 21.  Screenings will feature live music, food and beverages, and appearances by Roxy Team Surfers. Click here for more about the film and screening event dates & times..

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

Click here and visit the Kids off the Couch store at

Click here and visit the Kids off the Couch store at