Movie Name: Road House
Studio: Silver Pictures
Release Date(s): May 19, 1989
MPAA Rating: R
James Dalton (Patrick Swayze) is one of the best coolers/bouncers in the business…his name is legendary, and his ability to take control of a fight is known by no other. When Frank Tilghman (Kevin Tighe) hires Dalton to turn things around at his bar the Double Deuce, Dalton questions if it can be his last job. Unfortunately, the Double Deuce is in a town “owned” by Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara) and Brad Wesley isn’t about to let Dalton change things. As he romances a local doctor named Elizabeth Clay (Kelly Lynch), Dalton faces Wesley and his men, but Dalton’s past might come back to haunt him.
Directed by Rowdy Herrington, Road House became a staple on cable television and gained a cult following. The movie was panned by critics and received Razzie nominations for Worst Actor (Patrick Swayze), Worst Supporting Actor (Ben Gazzara), Worst Director, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay (many of which were won by Star Trek V: The Final Frontier).
Road House is almost indescribable. It is bad, very bad. From the drama to the action, the movie is horrible. It qualifies as “can’t turn away badness”…so bad-it-is-good.
Road House’s plot is ridiculous. Gazzara’s control of the city is so intense that he can run a monster truck over cars in a car-lot in front of everyone and no one will report him. He has a bunch of the lamest enforcers working for him and everyone fears him…and for some reason he likes the Double Deuce to be a dump instead of a big moneymaker. I also like how everyone can just pretend like they didn’t see anyone shoot Gazzara in the end of the film, and that would hold up in court…the sheriff and judge couldn’t possibly find any evidence on anyone…
Dalton himself is such a crazy/lame character. First, it looks like they weren’t prepared for Swayze to be a little tiny (but fit) guy…fortunately, it was turned into a running joke “I thought you’d be bigger”…still it doesn’t seem like he’d be that intimidating, and the guys do get the jump on him a number of times. He’s of course tortured by ripping the larynx out a guy “in self-defense”and has this whole Zen thing going on…when of course means lots of tai-chi without a shirt. He’s joined by other lame bouncers and his old friend Sam Elliott (who he thinks is ok to leave alone after he was almost beaten to death). Elliott’s death fortunately leads to
Road House looks like a horrible movie too. The sets, the framing, the action is all sub-par. The fight scenes are horribly choreographed and despite some decent kicks by Swayze, look like fake-fighting by amateurs. It also is apparently the most flammable city ever. Everything blows-up in that town. Be it cars or homes or building, whenever there is fire a huge explosion is sure to follow. I know you have suspend reality, but it is very hard to do with this movie.
The acting also awful. Swayze just does a lot of glaring and pensive starring…and has a very unromantic relationship with Kelly Lynch. Gazzara’s “evil” villain isn’t very intimidating and the veteran actor doesn’t look like he knows exactly what he’s doing. It is fortunate for both actors that they are surrounded by an even worst cast of supporting actors.
Road House is a must see for bad movie fans. I recommend seeing the real version not for television because at least you get some gratuitous nudity. I think this is one of those movies that actually should have pushed it harder. Just think if Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez directed Road House with the same cast? It would be completely awesome and completely over-the-top. Road House was actually followed-up by a sequel after its popularity on cable and Road House 2: Last Call was released straight-to-DVD in 2006.