Road House (1989)


Let me tell you about the masterpiece that is Road House. The first time I saw this movie was five years ago at a bar in Brooklyn called The Commodore. It was playing without sound or subtitles on and I was watching from halfway across the bar, ignoring the guy I was on a date with. I jumped into watching Road House around the scene where Patrick Swayze (Dalton) is fighting the rich villain's main lackey with the denim vest and I couldn't tell if Patrick Swayze was the good guy or the bad guy because uh he rips some guy's friggin throat out of his friggin neck. Not your typical archetype of a hero, this Road House Patrick Swayze. I've always felt like I got the gist of this movie just by watching that snippet, but I just recently watched this movie with the sound on and I'd like to explain it. From the beginning. Off the dome. With little concern for grammar, pacing, or accuracy. 

Ok, so this is a movie about staying cool. Right from the get-go we got Patrick Swayze (his character is referred to as Dalton, but this is classic bad-ass Patrick Swayze a la The Outsiders and Dirty Dancing so I won't refer to him by his character's name because I think the canon of his particular type of cool permeates his entire body of work and can be generalized by his given name) being real cool in some NYC bar that seems to be 80's bumpin'. We got titties out, we got shoulder pads, we got a full house and a live band playing to a crowd that is going buck nutty. Some d-bag loser guy starts a petty fight about something and then pulls out a knife and all the people dancing around them go like whoaaa and step back from the action. Then the club's bouncers circle in and Patrick Swayze is there and he's like "yo, easy" and the guy with the knife is looking real thirsty and wants to fight Patrick Swayze and Patrick Swayze's body language suggests "nah, not even, I'm being too cool for this drama and you like ridiculous right now". Then the d-bag with the knife CUTS our boy while his back is turned and then they're both all like "YEAH, LET'S GO OUTSIDE." The d-bag is looking for a fight but really he's just been kicked out and Patrick Swayze's like, no... You don't get to fight me. These other bouncers are just going to bounce you, sorry... I tricked you. THEN. Turns out that guy who runs the orphanage from The Newsies (wasn't he in Lost too? I kind of remember him being Locke's shitty dad who basically bogarts him out of a kidney? I've never committed this actor's name to memory but I think that's fine) was watching the whole friggin fight. He finds Patrick Swayze after this scene in an office somewhere, where our boy is stitching up his knife wound, and it's becoming more apparent that Patrick Swayze is something of a renowned bouncer because he's brutal and bad ass, people fear him and Mr. Newsies orphanage warden (or was he the orphanage's executive director? Or possibly the operations manager for the orphanage? Orphan requisitions expert? What was his official job title?) wants to hire him. He tells Patrick Swayze he's a nouveau riche club owner down in bum-fuck Missouri at a bar called Double Deuce and he wants Patrick Swayze. Hard. Apparently Patrick Swayze is the best in the night club bouncing biz, and he is Mr. Newsies Bar Owner's only hope to turn this small-town sinkhole into a big-city-sized success and will he please please please take this job?? After very little negotiation Patrick Swayze is IN and gives a really shitty no-weeks notice to his old boss and that's that. END OF ACT 1. Real cool. 

After abandoning his former boss and laissez faire city lifestyle, Patrick Swayze takes his 'Cedes out from storage and gives his other car to some hobo, which is confusing because he ends up getting another beater when he gets down to Missouri; really makes you wonder what happened to that other car he just gave away. Is it still in his name? Did he think it would somehow be cheaper to not just pay a service to deliver the car to Missouri? Did such delivery services exist at the time of this movie? Could he not have asked a friend to drive it down and just fly the friend back to New York? Does he have friends in New York that aren't hobos? This is really the only flaw in Road House, but it is glaring. Once Patrick Swayze gets to the bar, he's real cool and doesn't announce his presence to anyone. This place is loud and rowdy, heck THEY BE SWEEPING UP EYEBALLS AT THE END OF THE NIGHT. Patrick Swayze is there for maybe 10 minutes and there's like six different fights breaking out over nothing, there's prosties and drug dealers and the bartender is skimming the till- this place is a god damn shit show. Patrick Swayze just kind of takes it all in and orders coffee. This one loud mouth waitress bugs Patrick Swayze and gets him to admit his name and apparently he's famous in the bouncing trade, because everyone knows who he is and he's tough and don't cross him blah blah blah details details.

I don't remember exactly when in the chronology that Patrick Swayze moves into his new apartment, but Jeez Louise; what is this Williamsburg loft doing in bo-dunk Missouri?! Basically, P-Swayz drives up with his beater car and finds this old man farmer baling hay with his hook hands and our boy is like "hey, I came about the room?" 

This is not a room.

They walk into this barn and go up a flight of stairs and it's this open-floor plan luxury West Elm refurbished shabby-chic oasis dwelling with no privacy, and enormous barn doors that open up as windows overlooking a lake with a McMansion across the way. The old man farmer takes Patty Sway around this gorgeous alternative living space, which aside from the no-front-door-and-rich-neighbors-who-taunt-us-with-their-helicopter-and-obnoxious-lavish-habits situation is pretty damn sweet. Old man says "heck, you can have it for $100 a month if you want it, there ain't no wifi or electricity or, how you say, plumbing but you want it or what?" and P'swazye is like "Dang old man, you p'swazyed me! I mean, persuaded me!" They are now best friends and Patrick Swayze has a great deal but also is technically an illegal tenant... but also maybe the house did have electricity because Patrick Swayze and a hot lady doctor have sex with the lights on later in the movie so I surely must be remembering this wrong. I'd be interested to see if that $100 rent included any utilities because I imagine it would be exceedingly expensive to heat that home is poorly insulated and FULLY OPEN TO THE REST OF THE BARN BECAUSE THERE IS NO DOOR AS I MENTIONED, JUST A STAIRWAY TO THE REST OF THE BARN; THIS APARTMENT SPACE IS KIND OF IN THE RAFTERS OF THIS BARN AND I IMAGINE THE OLD FARMER ACTUALLY GOES ON TO HAVE A SECOND CAREER AS FOUNDER AND CEO OF RESTORATION HARDWARE BECAUSE DAMN THAT PLACE IS GORGEOUS.

So next comes the meat and potatoes of the movie where every character that Patrick Swayze meets has some major exposition for us. Patrick Swayze does shirtless outdoor Tai Chi and starts shaking things up at the bar, Double Deuces, by firing all the jabrones that are actually terrible at their jobs; no one is safe to have sex in the walk-in anymore :'((( He fires a corrupt bartender who happens to be related to the only rich person in this town, who happens to be Patrice Swazi's daggone neighbor! Basically, Jasper, Missouri, where the titular road house blues bar is located, is being held emotionally and financially hostage by the aforementioned rich neighbor/former bartender's uncle that taunts Patrick Swayze and his farmer landlord with his helicopter and topless pool parties. This rich neighbor is kind of old, but not quite as old as old man father time, aka Patrick Swayze's landlord. Anywho, as Patrick Swayze is poking around town making friends with local business owners, it begins to add up that Mr. Helicopter Neighbor is extorting the town's small businesses, which is supposedly why he is rich. Pissed that his nephew was fired as a bartender at Double Deuce, the seemingly endless number of greasy goons employed by Mr. Big Rich Neighbor start harassing Patrick Swayze & co with their monster truck and eventually Patrick Swayze gets really hurt and goes to the hospital and meets hot lady doctor (spoiler: they bang! Multiple times)!! It's not really clear but hot lady doctor was somehow romantically involved with Mr. Big Rich Neighbor in the past? Maybe? Unclear, really. Either way, Patrick Swayze pissed off the wrong dick-swinging troglodyte and Shit Starts Happening. END OF ACT 2.

Don't get me wrong, lots of fighting and petty bar brawl shit happens in Act 2. That, however, is child's play compared to the build up and conclusion of this movie. Basically, shit gets maybe a little too real for Packin' Suedesies, so he calls in his best bro and mentor, Sam Elliott, to help him pick up the slack. Through their exchanges, we the audience learn that yeah, patrick_swayze69 is super tough and knows martial arts, but he's also real tortured. One time he used self-defense in what sounds like a very volatile situation and he ended up straight up killing a dude and going in front of a court/supposedly was found innocent. He carries this guilt around under his tough-guy bouncer facade, and tries to exercise restraint in his work, although it's becoming increasingly difficult given the mounting tension and violence being exercised against him by our antagonist and his cronies, the Bad Rich Neighbor Gang. So Swayze's best buddy, old-as-shit-even-in-1989 Sam Elliott, shows up to help our guy but he basically just helps PtrckSwyz kick the hornet's nest until they escalate from bar-brawls to the scene I mentioned in which a throat (spoiler: it's a baddy's throat) is ripped out. Sam Elliott is stabbed to death in retaliation, and the line in the sand is drawn. It escalates to the Final Showdown. Patrick Swayze sacrifices his 'Cedes, symbolizing the death of his New York persona and the end of all his fear and the Bouncer Kraken is released. He sends his fancy car flying across the lawn to Baddy Neighbor's pad in order to have it explode on some anonymous bad-guy henchman so he can infiltrate their compound. He sneaks into the McMansion and kills literally everyone except for the goon-squad's comedy relief before he is joined by the town's small business owners who all gang up and shoot the Ambiguously Rich Emotionally Stunted Aging Rich Neighbor Who Probably Had a Small Dick many times. Police find them all minutes later at the scene over said neighbor's murdered corpse, but since they are not holding guns at that exact moment, they are not accused or detained in any manner.

In conclusion, they all get away with it scott-free despite a mansion full of dead bodies and a room full of disgruntled local business owners with inconsistent alibis because in Jasper, Missouri they operate exclusively in the court of public opinion and Mr. Helicopter Monster Truck Greasy Unspecified-Anglo Mafia Old Man Neighbor was definitely guilty of being a dick and deserved to die. Patrick Swayze goes skinny dipping with his hot doctor girlfriend. They definitely fuck soon after, but they are never truly alone as they are followed for eternity by the ghosts of all their slain enemies who have vowed to haunt them until they rot in hell for their sins. The end!