'Hecklevision:' Leave Your Phone On At This Movie

Portland, Ore., is one of the cities trying something new in movie theaters — encouraging audience members to heckle via text messages. The jokes and comments appear on the big screen. Robert Siegel talks with Erik Henriksen of the Portland Mercury alternative weekly about this week's offering — Point Break.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

You may recall the old TV program, "Mystery Science Theater 3000." It used to show terrible old science fiction movies and three characters provided an additional soundtrack, nonstop wisecracks about the acting, the dialog, the sets, everything.

Well, now comes a very similar idea in movie theaters. It's called Hecklevision. We think it started in Austin. Now, it's happening in Portland, Oregon at the Hollywood Theater. The theater, in conjunction with the Portland Mercury, the city's alternative weekly newspaper, is going to show "Point Break" with Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves and Hecklevision.

Eric Henriksen is senior editor of the Mercury and joins us now. And, first of all, tell us what happens with Hecklevision.

ERIK HENRIKSEN: OK. Well, Hecklevision is - we play the movie on the big screen and then the general idea is that, unlike every other screening where people text anyway and ruin everything, we encourage texting and it's allowed. And they're able to text comments and text commentary and text heckles and text jokes. And, as soon as they hit send on their phone, it pops up on the bottom of the screen next to their username.

SIEGEL: OK. So a week from Friday night, I gather, people will see the 1991 surfer, skydiving, bank heist movie, "Point Break," which has lines in it like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "POINT BREAK")

PATRICK SWAYZE: (as Bodhi) You can't just walk up to those guys. You have to get out there, learn the moves, get into their head, pick up the speech.

KEANU REEVES: (as Johnny Utah) You trying to tell me the FBI is going to pay me to learn to surf?

SIEGEL: To which I would text, wait 'til you see what the GSA will pay you to do.

HENRIKSEN: No. I heard that clip and I got super excited because I love this movie, but I heard a rumor that you didn't like this movie. I have to call you on it. Is that true?

SIEGEL: I've never actually assembled a 10 worst list, but it would be - by my taste, it's entirely subjective - a serious competitor.

HENRIKSEN: No, no. Tell me why. I mean, we can agree to disagree and we won't ever be BFFs on it, but I'm just curious what - how do you not love a movie in which Keanu learns to surf from Patrick Swayze and then they go skydiving?

SIEGEL: And they rob banks with masks of presidents. Somehow...

HENRIKSEN: Yeah. I forgot that part. There's that part.

SIEGEL: That's the whole movie. That's the whole movie, Erik. They're bank robbers.

HENRIKSEN: Oh, but you say that like that's not enough.

SIEGEL: No.

HENRIKSEN: Oh, it's so great.

SIEGEL: No, no. I would never say there's not enough of this. As I recall, it goes on forever.

HENRIKSEN: It is. It's like two hours long.

SIEGEL: Listen, if lots of people text while they're watching the movie, doesn't it start to - doesn't it get crowded with texts or how long do they stay up on the screen?

HENRIKSEN: Well, we actually - they kind of scroll. I think we have - we usually have about five lines of text at the bottom of the screen and then, any time somebody else texts, it kind of bumps the top text off the screen and the new one comes up from the bottom. So, during the slower parts of the movies, when people aren't being smart asses, it can stay up there for a few seconds, but during, you know, I think any part when Gary Busey's going to say anything, I think it's going to blow up. So, when that happens, that scrolling is going to go pretty quick, so you better have a short joke and it better be punchy and you better be able to type it really quick.

SIEGEL: This is a bit like sitting around your living room with 300 or 500 friends and watching a movie and talking about it.

HENRIKSEN: Yeah. It's been interesting watching how un-fun it is to go to movies these days, between how much they cost and the ads they cram down your throat beforehand and everybody texting and talking all the way through. And it's interesting watching theaters kind of have to adapt to that and have to offer more than - we're just going to play something on a big screen.

And this is kind of something like that, which is kind of a communal experience and it is something that you would do with some buddies and some beers around the TV, but in this case, you're doing it with, you know, like, 300 of them.

SIEGEL: Well, Erik Henriksen, as someone once said, adios, amigo.

HENRIKSEN: You, too, bro. You, too.

SIEGEL: Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Portland Mercury, cosponsor of the Hecklevision program at the Hollywood Theater.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "POINT BREAK")

SWAYZE: (as Bodhi) What the wave is doing. It accepts energy (unintelligible). You (unintelligible).

REEVES: (as Johnny Utah) Yeah, right. Vision is highly overrated.

SWAYZE: (as Bodhi) OK, Johnny. You got your number on it. Let's jam.

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