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  • Robert Farago

Road House - Movie Review

Everything’s Jake

In 1989’s Road House, James Dalton was the lead bouncer at a roadhouse called the Double Deuce. It might have been screenwriters David Lee Henry and Hilary Henkin’s nod to a pair of twos in a poker. A bad deal – that could get better! Just like the bar! On the other hand (so to speak)…

“Deuce" is a euphemism for the Devil. Signaling the fictional bar’s appeal to its patrons’ violent, lawless urges?

Double Deuce (two twos) could also refer to Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott’s dual nature: Zen-like calm and explosively violent.

Taking Swayze’s action movie seriously may seem ridiculous. But the first Road House had philosophical underpinnings.

"Be nice until it's time to not be nice,” Dalton instructs his protégés. Maintain composure and politeness until you can’t. Then kick ass!

The roadhouse in Netflix’s Road House remake is called… Road House. Explained by the PC bar owner as her dead uncle’s sense of humor.

It’s a clear reflection of the filmmakers’ utter unabashed laziness. Either that or cocaine is once again convincing Hollywood’s over-moneyed idiots that they’re a freaking genius.

If there is a point to Road House II - other than enriching its participants - it’s Jake Gyllenhaal’s shredded body. The same no-percent body fat physique front and center in his 2015 bashed boxer flick Southpaw.

When Gyllenhaal’s Dalton isn’t pulling sharp objects out of his ripped torso – objects which have no appreciable effect save a bit of wincing and Band Aid-able bleeding – he’s busy taking Swayze’s gay pinup status to another level.

In this go-round, Dalton’s a suicidal former MMA fighter turned mercenary with zero interest in bouncing, or teaching anyone else to do so.

In one scene, Dalton sits at the bar calmly drinking as the eponymous roadhouse erupts in carefully choreographed chaos behind him. This in the middle of the flick. Nice.

That said, why should he care?

By that time, Dalton’s been punched in the head with enough force to create brain damage ten times over. Ten times over. And done the same to a number of n’er-do-wells. Ten times over.

Until, that is, Conor McGregor shows up halfway through the film, itching for the climactic fight, triggering an arithmetic increase in what should be fatal blows.

Yeah, about Mr. McGregor…

The real world MMA Champ is woefully miscast as himself. His grinning, bouncing, pimp-rolling bad guy Knox on the door of parody. In terms of comedic value or menace, I hear him knocking but he can’t come in.

McGregor’s Knox is a methhead Brutus to Dalton’s Popeye. A jacked Jack Torrance to Dalton’s sleepy Wendy, complete with a “Here’s Johnny!” moment. Just one of the filmmakers’ lame inside jokes.

Rest assured Road House 2.0 has a plot. One that brings new meaning to the term “beggars belief.” Suffice it to say, Road House II will be mirth-laden manna for the master of laugh-out-loud deconstruction, Ryan George.

Meanwhile, here’s a taste…

Dalton bone breaks and beats four thugs who set out to un-alive the nominal bouncer. Who then drives the homicidal quartet to the hospital for treatment. Trusting them not to attack him as he drives? Apparently so.

Never mind. How better to meet his love interest, a self-professed Florida native who somehow acquired a Portuguese accent. Like her father. Who is not, but could have been, a more appropriate love interest. Just sayin’…

Road House redux’s only redeeming quality: some halfway decent moody shots of the Florida keys. Most convincingly, and welcome, images without any so-called actors in it.

If there’s one scene in the Road House remake capable of reminding a Boomer of the charm and zeitgeist of the original movie… I missed it. This is a film created by people who set out to prove that nothing exceeds like excess. And exceeded themselves.

You could say c’mon now, that’s brainless entertainment!

I’m with Annie Lenox. Who am I to disagree? The new Road House is currently Netflix’s third most popular movie, with tens of millions of no doubt satisfied viewers.

Never mind that Road House revisited pisses all over the original’s anti-violence violence for impressionable young ‘uns who missed the knockout game videos on social media. It’s fun for the whole family!

If the Swayze Road House wasn’t so good, so corny yet coherent, so insipid yet inspirational, I’d let sleeping movie dogs lie. As loathe as I am to use the metaphor, this dog needs kicking.

The new Road House remake makes a mockery of the well-loved original. Literally. It’s Hollywood’s condescending cynicism writ large. A deuce on its makers and enablers.


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