PSA: Road House (1989), or Go Ahead, Slash My Tires; I Have A Set Of Spares, Anyway

24 06 2009

I have said time and time again that Road House is, for better or for worse, one of the greatest bad movies that America has yet to produce. I go to sleep at night sometimes just marveling at its incompetent wonder. It’s the Perfect Storm of dumb, ridiculous, hilarious, and offensive. I could probably make the same movie a thousand times over, with the same characters, cast, crew, and plot in good ol’ 1989, but I would never be able to capture the unimaginable magic of the original idea. It’s just SO DAMN FUNNY! Who thought it was a good idea to make a movie about bouncing? Perhaps writer David Lee Henry used to be a bouncer and this was his ultimate fantasy, or perhaps he had a fierce sexual addiction to bedding bouncers, but whatever the case may be this movie is a wet dream for bouncers who can dream long enough to forget that they’re bouncing a dingy club, are being paid well below what their service is worth, and have no life besides paying for overpriced sex and hoping some drunk shitkicker drops a $20 on the floor. But I kid the bouncers!

This movie is essentially a love letter to the world’s greatest bouncer, Dalton. Everything about Dalton is amazing. He’s sleek, he’s funny, he’s sexy, he’s a man’s man, he’s a badass, he built the Eiffel Tower, he’s the secret descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, he kills and eats dinosaurs for pleasure. He’s just awesome, and he sauntered right on into the quiet but seedy little town of Jasper, where things aren’t always what they seem. Underneath the sleepy, sad-but-proud exterior of this cozy redneck nook lies corruption, evil and greed, and a lot of it is emanating from the Double Deuce, Jasper’s beloved hangout spot. There’s all kinds of seedy stuff going on, and it’ll take a real man to clean it all up. A real tai-chi wielding (!), philosophy studying (!!), throat-ripping (!!!) man named Dalton. And where there were zero real men in Jasper, with Dalton in town, that makes exactly one. But when all this real manhood causes trouble for the ultra-evil Brad Wesley, can even Dalton, the God of Broken Skin and Spilled Blood, take on the entire evil establishment alone, or will he be forced to call in HIS mentor, Wade Garrett, the Emperor of Bouncing?

It’s all about the good versus the evil. Dalton is good, and Brad Wesley is evil. Everything in between is like the toppings on a sandwich, separating the good and bad until just the right moment (that’s when the deliciousness of this movie occurs). And what’s in between this obvious and inevitable battle between sweet Lord Dalton and Wesley? Lots and lots of bar fights, one-liners, drinking, and Dalton’s home-spun advice.

What makes this movie so good in a bad way was that the perfect guy to play Dalton. This guy is legendary, so it only makes sense to use a legendary actor like Patrick Swayze to play him, right? Swayze delivers the performance that might, in some odd way, define his career. Dalton is the coolest motherfucker to ever fuck your mother, so Swayze pulls out an “I’m better than you” attitude that just ANNIHILATES every other sappy character Swayze has ever played. It’s not an emotionally complex role, but Swayze spends an entire 90 minutes with that look plastered on his taut and tanned face, a look he somehow manages to pull off, and for that I respect him. It’s a role that has come to be almost as well remembered as his romantic characters, chiefly due to the fact that it’s okay for guys to actively like Dalton, the ultimate bouncer.

There are some other characters that deserve mentioning, like Sam Elliott as Wade Garrett, Dalton’s salt-and-peppered mentor, or Kelly Lynch as Doc, the sexy and sassy object of Dalton’s unstoppable lust. They’re not bad, but really they’re just objects that Dalton uses to throw one-liners at in-between epic brawls. Here is a list of my favorite lines, that are spoken with the straightest of faces (Dalton’s), and you tell me what kind of movie this is afterwards:

Dalton: Pain don’t hurt.

Dalton: My way… Or the highway.

Doc: How’d a guy like you end up as a bouncer?

Dalton: Just lucky, I guess.

Jimmy: Damn, boy, I thought you were good!

Dalton: Go fuck yourself. (!!!)

And my personal favorite, when he’s trying to teach the bouncers of the Double Deuce how to be cool around the rowdy customers:

Steve: What if someone calls my mama a whore?
Dalton: Is she? (!!!!!)

That’s the kind of movie Road House is. A mindless but fun movie about the world’s greatest human being showing his kindness by cleaning out a small town of its miscreants. Full of oddball dialog, bouncer philosophizing, and unbelievably long and numerous bar room brawls, it’s a movie that doesn’t require a brain, just a sense of humor and a willingness to have a good time. You’ll find that there is a lot to enjoy, and you might just learn a thing or two about life along the way. I personally learned that if you piss off Patrick Swayze, he WILL rip your throat out of your neck. Fun fact, and on that note, I give Road House 7 1/2 Double Deuces out of 10. Now, get outta here, and remember: be nice.

Tomorrow I take on slightly more serious subject matter with Irreversible! I like to switch gears here at Cinematronica!

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2 responses

25 06 2009
reeltoreel

I just stumbled across your blog and I love it! I’ll definitely be checking back!

25 06 2009
cinematronica

Thank you so much, friend, I really appreciate it. Tell your friends, and don’t forget that I update daily, so there’ll always be SOMETHING to look at here. And keep an eye out for my internet friends and their blogs, particularly Goregirl, Cello, and fche26. They all have great blogs (fche26 is in another language, but it looks SPLENDID), and I really appreciate them as writers. Again, thank you so much, and keep coming back, reeltoreel; I love seeing recurring faces.

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