As Bad As You Thought?: Road House
After suffering the past couple of weeks through the likes of; Batman & Robin and The Last Airbender, it is time to reward myself so to speak, so this week for As Bad As You Thought I will be covering one of the finest films of the late actor, Patrick Swayze, Road House. Described by the director, Rowdy Herrington (every B grade action movie needs a director named Rowdy), described it as a modern day western, and Swayze is the stranger who comes into town to bring law and order by being the best bouncer the night club scene has ever had. Filled with all the hallmarks of a grindhouse action flick but with much better production values it has developed a massive cult following since it bombed at the box office upon its release. So now I head down to the Double Deuces to if Road House is as bad as you thought.
We begin our tale of love and revenge in the old….well late 80’s west at a nightclub where lawless and chaos could break out at any time and envelope the entire city nay the world in anarchy were it not for the cool watchful eye of…..Dalton. Throughout the movie we learn that his name is legendary in the world of late night entertainment venues. A thug does try to start a fight in the club and challenges Dalton to a fight, Dalton agrees but only if the throwdown happens outside in the parking lot. The poor fool leads the way and once he and his comrade reach the parking lot, Dalton locks them out. Dalton returns to his office, why does a bouncer need an office you ask, to do bouncer things of course. He stitches up his wounds himself from his previous conflict and a man who needs his help, Frank Tilghman. Frank owns a club called the Double Deuces a rough and tumble bar that he hopes to clean up, but he needs to best cooler in the business to do it. Dalton, being as humble as he is, recommends his mentor but in the end must concede and take the job. Dalton tells his old boss that he’s quitting, no two weeks notice needed I guess and is told by Frank that he thought Dalton would be bigger, something everybody tells him so much I’m surprised he’s not sick of it yet.
Dalton heads out to the Double Deuces to see what he is getting himself into; and man oh man is he in for a treat. Inside he watches unflinchingly as the band performs behind a fence for safety, people are fighting constantly, the employees are dealing drugs and stealing and even one of the barflies wanting to get “nipple to nipple” with a waitress. If such a place existed in real life I’m sure the cops would have shut it down by now. But it is only a matter of time before word starts circulating among the staff, that the Great Dalton is in the bar and looking to bring the peace. Dalton finds solace in his friend who leads the band who warns him that this place was worse than the joint they worked together in the wilds of Dayton, Ohio. My favorite bit of debauchery is a fat bald middle aged man who offers a couple of perverts the chance to kiss his bombshell girlfriends breasts for $20 dollars, she seems to find the whole thing funny, but the man gets offended when such reputable men only want to feel his gal pal up and starts a bar that envelopes the entire joint in even more brawling than was already there, in fact they could put in on Pay Per View and make it pass for this year’s Royal Rumble . Say what you will but the man has morals; you can kiss but you can’t touch, if only everyone had such nobility the world would be a better place. Some how the battle comes to an end and Dalton surveys the crew as they clean up, the Terry Funk who seems to be moonlighting as the top bouncer there tries to start something with Dalton, who calmly walks away; so put that in your birthday cake and eat it.
The next order of business for Dalton is to get transportation and shelter I guess in hindsight these are things he should have taken care of before committing to the job but it’s a little late for that now; so he gets a clunker of a car knowing it will be damaged on the job. As for a place to live, Dalton drives up to an old barn in the middle of no where, and a scruffy farmer offers him the studio apartment in the barn that has no phone or cable or air conditioning, and this is apparently right up Dalton’s alley so he guides him into the old rustic barn and upstairs into his dumpy little….holy crap it’s a freaking penthouse! It looks like the wilderness vacation home for someone like Ted Turner. How has nobody snatched this place up yet?! Sadly I could not find a picture of the place to show you so you will just have to watch the movie and see. As Dalton looks through the mansion he will be barely scraping by in apparently, a helicopter flies overhead towards the mansion just across the lake from them. This is possibly the worst place for a mansion, being only a few yards away from an old farm is bound to destroy the property value, but judging from the farmer considers his dumpy little apartment Mr. Farmer isn’t too bad off himself so what can you do? The helicopter is apparently the property of local wealthy villain, Brad Wesley. But I have to wonder, I understand being the richest guy in a small town and all, but a helicopter, if you can afford to fly around in and maintain a helicopter why are you in a small Kansas town. The poor farmer landlord tells Dalton he can have the apartment as long as he is not a horse thief and if he pays rent because if he doesn’t apparently the local Presbyterians will launch an assault on him, because as we know the Presbyterians are intolerant of people living places for free. The two gentlemen agree on $100 dollars a month as a fair price for the luxury vacation home rental and Dalton makes the mistake of respectfully calling his new landlord, sir. The old man informs Dalton that calling him sir “is like putting an elevator in an outhouse” I want whoever wrote this screenplay’s dialogue to write my conversations in real life, this is utter gold.
The time has come on the fateful evening where Dalton is introduced at the staff meeting as being the new cooler and anything he says, goes. Immediately he fires the douchebag who tried to start crap with him the night before; I guess Dalton’s musician friend was right when he said if you have the cojones to mess with The Daltinator you’ve sealed your fate, I guess he meant in the unemployment line though. He warns Dalton that he is a dead man and angrily snatches his last pay check from his boss, which is his way of thanking the man for employing him for so long despite his violent outbursts and severe under-qualifications. To those who remain Dalton lays down the law in the most inspirational speech in film since Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator; I mean seriously try to watch it and not get choked and want to go make yourself a better (and badasser) person.
The first night of the new Double Deuce has finally come, and Dalton must now enforce the new rules of the road, er night club. A topless woman begins table dancing and his bouncers are met with resistance when they try to intervene, until the man who is Dalton quickly steps in and solves the problem before it even becomes a problem. Sensing that they are in the presence of greatness, the likes they have never seen before everyone asks in hushed tones who this mysterious new bringer of justice is, and with his super hearing ability the band leader informs everyone that it is in fact, Dalton. I guess being blind had heightened his sense of hearing because how else would he happen to know what everyone was talking about especially over the speakers and amps and all the other equipment. Dalton celebrates this public acknowledgement of his greatness by firing a bouncer having sex in a storage room. Though having sex on the job is wrong at least he promised to make the girl his “new Saturday night thing” more genius dialogue from the screenplay, who wrote such masterful words the Epsteins? Frank breathes a sigh of relief but the wisdom of Dalton reveals that things must get worse before they get better, this must have been where Christopher Nolan and crew got their inspiration for Harvey Dent’s speech in The Dark Knight about it being darkest before the dawn; I’m just kidding but the greatness the two movies share can not be denied.
Back at his penthouse apartment in the old splintering barn (I guess this is the TARDIS of barns) Dalton tries to read but is interrupted by the random mass of people at the mansion across the pond who decide to all run out of Brad’s lair of evil and strip down for a swim. Given the age of the partiers I have to wonder why they’re acting like they are at a frat party and not at the home of a crime kingpin? Have some class people. The next morning a waitress from the club who is quite obviously crushing on the Dalton intrudes into his apartment with breakfast early in the morning. Now I’ve worked night jobs before so I know from experience that in his situation you don’t even want to think about getting up until at least 11:30. But being the noble hero, he obliges the woman and emerges from his fully nude slumber, confidently giving the ladies in the audience a clear shot of his muscular buttocks. I could share an image of this but I don’t feel like having Funk fire me and replacing me with another guy who watches bad movies. Later as Dalton heads into town he has a near run in with Brad who is swerving all opver the road with his adrenaline pumping to the sound of his Doo Wop. I get that the villain likes to show off and throw his weight around the area, but is swerving around the road the best way to do it? I mean it’s a miracle he hasn’t been killed by someone with slow reaction time; but lucky for us Dalton’s reaction time is rivals that of Wally West and he swerves off the road to avoid being vehicular manslaughtered. Anyways it’s obvious that this guy is the bad guy of the film but up until now he hasn’t done anything evil; toolbaggish, yes but not evil.
The of the local auto parts store, hey the store is just across the parking lot from the club talk about convenience. As he and Dalton conduct business the store seems to grow darker and colder as Brad enters and politely introduces himself, a natural born fiend he is I say. Back at the luxury barn the old landlord discovers Dalton’s Mercedes and he also discovers his tenant practices yoga bare chested and out in the open. Apparently not being a part of the night club scene has left the poor man oblivious as to who Dalton is, that poor man. This scene of a shirtless Swayze in his prime slowly flexing and moving gracefully is quite obviously in the movie for the females in the audience, hell even Brad drives up on his ATV and seems quite happy with what he sees.
As the evening falls it is time to return to the Double Deuce where a group of thugs is trying to intimidate Frank and Dalton into rehiring tthe thieving bartender he fired, because the guy is the nephew of Brad Wsley (boo, hiss) who is the supplier of the booze to the club. While trying to appeal to his former boss, the guy pulls a knife with no provocation but is easily defeated by Dalton, who is no stranger to danger. Following his lead the lawyer and morbidly obese henchman who were there on his behalf randomly join the fray and get greeted by the fists of Dalton. Of course the great Dalton is a mere man like us and is forced to go to the hospital after the affair to get some stitches for his collection; I guess the Double Deuce did not give him in office for him to conduct his self-medication like the last place he worked at. Tending to his wounds is a gorgeous blonde doctor who the filmmakers threw a thick pair of glasses on to make her look smart, because that has never been done in movie ever. Dalton charms her with such lines as “pain don’t hurt”, most people would give him a quizzical look and pointed out that pain in fact does hurt. If she is not impressed by his immunity to pain she is by the fact that he as a degree in philosophy from NYU; like many I have often wondered what career opportunities are available to those with such a degree and now I know; next time I hire a bouncer I’m looking at their education background and not whether or not they have experience in the military or the police or anything. Like so many others before her she points out that she thought he would be bigger.
Back at the floating Darth Vader helmet in the swamp…waitminute wrong evil lair; back at Brad’s house his henchmen in their ridiculously large monster truck and small car and they apologize to the evil kingpin for botching the job; and are rewarded with a beat down. I know I’m not the toughest guy around but I’m pretty sure I can take a few punches from a small middle aged guy better than this guy. Dalton makes another visit to his buddy at the auto parts store to learn that all the local businesses are forced to pay protection money to Brad; because if they don’t his thugs will vandalize the place and cause a small amount of property damage from the looks of it.
Dalton knows the time has come to call in the back-up and he places a call to his mentor, Wade Garrett, played by the manliest of men, Sam Elliott. Garrett is apparently lending his own services as a legendary cooler at a club hosting a wet T-Shirt contest where the contestants don’t even feel the need to wear said T-Shirts. Later that night in the steadily improving Double Deuce, Brad Wesley’s thugs show up to cause trouble but are informed politely that they are in fact too stupid to have a good time and are taken out to the parking lot to share in a can of whoopass from Dalton. After the fight ends a lovely blonde stranger…er the doctor from earlier sans glasses takes him to a diner; shouldn’t he be bouncing or something. He warns her against thinking he is a nice guy buy paying for her meal and that of some boozehound who happens to be there.
When the sun rises the next day, Brad’s thugs show up at the old barn to confront Dalton who is calmly reclining on the hood of his car (how long has he been lying there like that?). They tell him that Mr. Wesley demands an audience with him seeing as it is the morbidly obese guy and the anorexic guy from earlier he is physically intimidated into doing what they say. Apparently from the loud pop music, gaudy decorations and scantily clad blonde randomly doing aerobics , Wesley lives the way most adolescent boys imagine they could live if they were super villains. He does the standard Bond villain schtick, lecturing Dalton that he came from nothing and built this town from nothing and nothing will stop him. Brad also seems to know a dark secret from Dalton’s past, that Dalton killed a man in Memphis; then he does the only reasonable thing and offers Dalton a job at the bar he’s thinking about building. Man things in this industry get intense; in retaliation for his refusal to work for evil, Wesley cuts off alcohol supplies to the Double Deuce which has completely changed from the beginning of the film. So in a matter of a few days, Dalton has gone from being a cooler trying to help reestablish a night club to a crusader for social change in the town; at least he’ still getting paid. In true Dalton form he calls an old acquaintance and problem solved.
His noble efforts are rewarded as the blonde doctor meets him for a booty call after his shift, but because he is the protagonist it’s a classy booty call. After partaking in the wild thing the couple do the only normal thing they can do and sit on the rooftop in all their glory; I guess when you’re good looking this kind of thing is acceptable. She urges him to stay but he says he must bring law to other lawless night clubs, but he says it very romantic like, not the way that other bouncers might say it. It is not until the next day that he is hit by the shocking revelation that she was involved with none other than, Brad Wesley. Before he can learn more Action Hero Dalton must stop the Legion of Brad Wesley from harassing his beer supplier friend. Though he is outnumbered in the fight, help comes in the form of Wade Garrett. The other bouncers are now humbled to be working the in presence of not one but two legendary bouncers; in the bouncer world this is like being a comic book artist working for Jack Kirby AND Neal Adams.
Now that Wade is in town he is gonna help by; hitting on the blonde doctor to the point of making things awkward and reminding Dalton about the guy he killed in Memphis; why doesn’t he just kick Dalton in the groin and finish the job? But he does give Dalton, nay the audience words of wisdom to live by “if the guy has a gun you have two choices you can die, or you can kill the motherf#@>&^”. Not as good as Dalton’s opening address but I’ll take it.
Apparently word of Dalton’s accomplishments has gotten around to Mr. Wesley who has the auto parts store burned to the ground. Feeling rather cocky about this, Brad and his men settle into the Double Deuce and proceed to make merry and cause a overall public disturbance; Dalton inevitably tries to restore order but is met with resistance from Wesley’s right hand man, Jimmy who seems to be the only guy on his staff who actually meets the physicality requirements for the job and is apparently a ninja as well. Chaos once again reigns at the Double Deuce and Dalton knows peace can not be achieved until Brad Wesley is defeated. But arsoning an auto parts store is just the beginning because Wesley movies onto crushing the entire inventory of the local Ford dealership with a monster truck, how’s that for Ford tough, can’t even take a monster truck smashing. He follows this up by blowing up the farm Dalton lives at; this man has gone mad with power because as The Simpsons movie taught us it’s boring going mad without power.
Now Dalton has had enough and in the most memorable scene in the film he beats the hell out of Ninja Jimmy, who proclaims that he had made love to people like Dalton while in prison, probably not the most badass thing to say but it seems to work for him so whatever. Dalton responds by freaking tearing the guy’s throat out! For future references that is how to end any argument. Dalton tries to leave town but the murder of Wade Garrett means it’s finally time to get it on like Donkey Kong with Brad Wesley.
Dalton breaks into the mansion of evil and easily slaughters all of Wesley’s goons so quickly that it’s hilarious; especially now that Ninja Jimmy is dead, none of the others really stand a chance. Soon the time comes to confront the big kahuna himself. As expected, Swayze in his prime physical condition has an unfair advantage over the feeble middle aged man who uses every single one of the insane weapons in his reach. As expected Dalton gets Wesley at his mercy and gives in to his sense of nobility and refuses to tear his throat out and blonde doctor for some reason runs into the room to embrace her man. Just because Dalton refuses to kill him does not mean all the local business owners who have been screwed over by the guy won’t and they calmly gun the man down in cold blood. When the police arrive at the scene of mayhem and death they all tell the authorities that they did not see anything, and apparently that works and everyone lives happily ever after.
So was Road House as bad as I thought? Yes it was bad and it spectacular fashion at that. As I have explained before there are bad movies such as; Batman and Robin; then there are bad movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space and Road House is definitely an example of the latter. The goal of this movie seems to be to make the most macho movie they could possibly make with the hunkiness of Patrick Swayze. The hero of the story, Dalton is obviously molded after the heroes of film past like John Wayne but with a softer approach because that’s how the ladies like their Patrick Swayze. But as awesome as Swayze is onscreen the screenplay by Hillary Henkin and David Lee Henry is what makes this movie so memorable from cheesy characters to even cheesier lines of dialogue it seems as if they did not take anything seriously about this script and it truly comes across while watching the movie. If bad action movies are your taste then I would highly recommend this movie as it is everything that is right about the genre in a single flick.