Road House (1989)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5

USA, 1989, Story by , Screenplay by R. Lance Hill, Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by , .

Patrick Swayze plays what appears to be a world-renowned bouncer, cleaning up the drinking establishments whose owners spend more on broken glass than they make on selling booze.  Swayze is drawn away from his current New York employment by a Kansas bar owner who offers him a mountain of cash to come out to his middle-of-nowhere Mad Max-looking watering hole and make it profitable again.  Our roundhouse-kicking, Tai Chi In The Morning, tight sweatpant-wearing hero obliges and within days of his arrival the place has gone from gross to glamorous, bearing all the beautifully garish neon lights that made the eighties so painful to endure and even more painful to remember (it looks like a gas station by the time it’s been renovated).  Swayze inspires the anger of a local crime boss (Ben Gazzara, who might as well be guest-starring on The Muppet Show) who doesn’t take kindly to strangers getting in the way of his own profits and responds with no small level of vengeance; we can never understand what Gazzara is saying but when his impressive goons or his truck with VERY big tires show up, we at least know what he means.  Shamelessly indulgent and made from a script that just feels like various producers daring each other to go further, this outrageous truck-stop western benefits greatly from Swayze’s unabashed sincerity in the lead, he practices no false modesty in showing off his rock-solid bod or his killer moves and, because he never tries to go too far beyond the Man With No Name personality that the character requires, he balances out the film’s determination to play nothing in a moderate key.  as his love interest, a ridiculously glamorous doctor who has far too much free time to spend at bars at night, declares this movie’s intentions to appeal to only your basest desires, and although the result isn’t thoroughly satisfying (you don’t quite invest in the characters enough to celebrate their overcoming obstacles), the more bizarre eccentricities (like Swayze’s bad habit of massaging people’s throats a LITTLE too hard) make it a must-see.

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