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ROAD HOUSE - 3 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1989 Silver Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 14 Feb 2012

The Characters:  

  • Dalton - Patrick Swayze! A physically fit, sophisticated, tough yet sensitive man with a degree in philosophy who owns a Mercedes, practices Tai Chi to relax, and loves to slow dance. Ladies, try to keep your panties on.
  • Elizabeth (Doc) - If Dalton is the perfect man for every woman; well this is the perfect woman for him. She is blonde, skinny, surprisingly promiscuous, and a doctor.
  • Wade - Sam Elliot! A legend in the world of bouncers until he dies and passes into bouncer legend.
  • Cody - Jeff Healey! Band members know that playing in a lawless country bar is dangerous, and being blind should make things worse, but Cody exhibits an unnatural ability to detect and dodge incoming glass bottles. Maybe he hears the air whistling past the opening.
  • Tilghman - The owner of the Double Deuce.
  • The Local Jasper Business Owners - With names like Red and Emmett, you just know that they are going to be simple, likeable folks who work hard every day and would be happy to give a stranger the American-made shirt off of their back.
  • Brad Wesley - A dishonest businessman who treats the little town of Jasper like his private fief. He also dresses like Thurston Howell, III.
  • Jimmy - Wesley's pet martial arts guy who is almost as tough as Dalton.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"Roadhouse" is a work of fantasy in which bouncers are members of a secret society that works to improve the world by turning bars into places where people can have fun without getting their heads split open. Yes, like the Freemasons, but without all the knocking on doors and waving hands at each other. Among the ranks of these stalwart defenders of musicians and social drinkers are bouncers who have reached the next level of enlightenment; the princes of bouncerdom if you will. These people are called coolers. Dalton, our protagonist, is the greatest cooler who has ever lived (or died).

It is easy to spot a bar or dance club that a cooler has chosen as their home. Such hallowed places are resplendent with parking lots of expensive cars, attractive women in tastefully revealing outfits, and well-dressed men who appreciate fine liquor and good music. I hesitate to speculate, but it occurs to me that coolers might be lost princes of Amber, and every adopted nightclub becomes their Avalon or Lorraine.

Thus we meet Dalton, enjoying the atmosphere of his latest achievement, a club called the Bandstand. However, the serenity of the club is broken by the arrival of a man on a pilgrimage. That would be Tilghman, come to ask Dalton to help him change his violent bar into an entertainment Nirvana. Intrigued by the challenge, Dalton accepts and promises to meet Tilghman at the Double Deuce in picturesque Jasper, MO.

Before I get too far into "Road House," I like to mention that bars and clubs appear to have a clearly defined life cycle. When they start out, the restrooms are clean, the food and the drinks are good, and the clientele, whatever their walk of life, is comprised of people whose company is, by and large, enjoyable. Like a man reaching middle age, one day everything suddenly starts going downhill. When that happens, just like men, general maintenance is the first to go. Going to the restroom becomes a horror movie. Broken tiles and unfriendly smells are the least of your worries, because the gloom caused by lights being out makes it hard to identify the true nature of the various dark lumps that litter the wet floor. Also, the food sucks. Even worse, the people suck. There are noticeably fewer of them than the bar entertained during its prime, and the few who do come are usually bitter and unhappy. When it gets to that point, the end is near. The bar eventually closes before being remodeled, reopening, and going through the same cycle all over again.

It can take decades for a bar to run its course (though 3-5 years is the norm) but it is uncanny how they unwaveringly stick to that sequence of events.

The Double Deuce is a bar well past its prime. It might even have died and come back as a reanimated corpse, instead of the regular cycle of death, reincarnation, and rebirth. A normal night is filled with fights and illegal drug sales, and it ends with the bouncers all nursing black eyes and bloody knuckles. It's more of a brawl than a party. Turning a place like the Double Deuce around should require either mounted riot police or flamethrowers, but all it takes is Dalton. He spends just one evening observing before firing the troublemakers and changing all the rules.

To simplify things, let's just say that Dalton teaches the bouncers the ancient art of bouncing.

Knowing that interfering with the regulars of such a savage environment is likely to court trouble, Dalton rents a loft in a quiet country area. He also buys a sturdy old car and a lot of used spare tires. The wisdom of the car purchase is easy to see. After politely removing certain unwelcome elements from the bar, Dalton finds that his tires have been slashed. On go the spares.

Transitioning from a redneck gladiatorial arena to a respectable club is not easy, but Dalton manages it with finesse. If at all possible, he avoids fighting and just defuses violent situations. When that is not an option (due to the other party) he kicks their butt with ease, then has them escorted to the door. The Double Deuce becomes a popular haven for folk thirsty for beer and entertainment. It's also home to some darn fine music courtesy of Jeff Healey and his band. Among the reasons that "Road House" works so well for me is that I enjoy the music. In addition to The Jeff Healey Band, there are quite a few classics (like in "Dirty Dancing"), and even Cruzados makes an appearance. One song that I think would have fit perfectly into the soundtrack is Bruce Springsteen's "Cover Me."

During his stay in Jasper, Dalton makes a few friends among the locals. However, his big find is a doctor by the name of Elizabeth who has been waiting her whole life for a philosophical kung fu bouncer with a heart of gold. Elizabeth turns to putty in Dalton's arms and they end up spontaneously making love standing up against the stone wall in his loft.

Now, I know that he is Patrick Swayze and all, but Elizabeth is out of her damn gourd. This man, who she just met mind you, spends his entire life socializing with the various denizens of establishments that close their doors after 2:00 AM. The doctor in her should know better than to have unprotected sex with him up against a rough stone wall. If Elizabeth doesn't get an infection from boinking her new bouncer beau then she's likely to get one from the rocks scraping up her backside.

For the record, both Dalton and the wall are clean. Elizabeth doesn't have to prescribe herself any antibiotics.

The real trouble in Jasper is a man by the name of Brad Wesley. He is a bully, pure and simple. Unfortunately, he is rich. That money and influence means that he has power, and he uses it to extort money from the local businesses and terrorize anybody who crosses him. Dalton quickly runs afoul of Wesley by cleaning up the Double Deuce. Most of Wesley's muscle is provided by a gang of local toughs, who prove no match for the bouncer's mystical martial arts powers. However, as the movie progresses, Wesley's bully antics progress from somewhat believable to completely outlandish. A couple of guys trying to intimidate Tilghman is within the realm of reason, but then Red's auto parts store is destroyed by arson. That is about as far as my ability to suspend belief extends, but it doesn't stop there. One of Brad's goons drives a monster truck through a car dealership in the middle of town to punish the owner for defying Wesley.

The car dealership destruction is the moment when the film really jumps the shark.

When the going starts to get tough, Dalton calls his friend and mentor, Wade Garrett. The grizzled veteran of a thousand bar fights rides into town to save his little mijo from Wesley. He also wants to save Dalton from Elizabeth. See, Wade does not trust women - they pee funny and make men do stupid things. Unfortunately, Brad Wesley has an infatuation with the blonde doctor, so Dalton becomes his #1 enemy. His jealousy and need to intimidate the local citizens causes him to unleash his secret weapon: Jimmy. The rivalry between Dalton and Jimmy becomes the film's central conflict for a short period. They both are expert fighters and almost evenly matched, but while Dalton fights for a higher ideal, Jimmy does it for the fun of hurting people. The two eventually battle it out in a death match that results in one of them getting killed (hint: it's Jimmy).

Wow, this is just like "Steel Dawn," but without the Apocalypse.

Wesley finally goes too far when his goons murder Wade. That snaps it, and Dalton goes on a warpath that eliminates a heck of a lot of the shallow end of the Jasper gene pool. The last person to get killed is Wesley, who dies in such a bloody manner that the humor which follows is embarrassing. That's weird, because watching a man beat a zombie baby against a swing set makes me laugh, as does seeing somebody's head fall off, grow legs, and scurry across the floor.

I'm also known to laugh when people slip and fall down. I must be a bad person.

A big reason this movie is a fun bad movie is Patrick Swayze. He is often the center of the scene, and plays the part of a mystic prince of bouncers with ease. However, many of the other actors and characters simply fit in perfectly. Emmet and Red are nearly one-dimensional, but extremely enjoyable in their parts. Most of the bad guys are simple as well, but effective. In fact, the only antagonist I could not deal with is Brad Wesley. He does not work for me as Brand to Dalton's Corwin. His saving grace is that he is consistent throughout, so at least there is not any see-sawing back and forth. Brad Wesley is always a rich bully.

Special kudos to Sam Elliot's performance as Wade Garrett. He is an awesome complement to Dalton. I cannot imagine "Road House" without Sam Elliot.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Despite posted notices to the contrary, Jenny at 867-5309 does not have a Buick for sale.
  • Beer bottles should be made from safety glass or rubber.
  • Presbyterians believe that the 11th Commandment is "Thou shalt not rent thine loft to the Hottentots."
  • 7-Eleven and JCPenney are the pinnacles of Western Civilization.
  • Every time you hear Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine," Patrick Swayze gets laid.
  • Men in Missouri wear an awful lot of red and pink.
  • The first thing you should ask a woman is if she is married. If she says yes, then the second thing you should ask her is if her husband owns a gun.
  • Spears are both decorative and functional.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Dude, you are not supposed to say, "I thought you'd be bigger" to another man!
  • 38 mins - Perfect man, meet your perfect woman. You may kiss the surgeon.
  • 48 mins - Is he driving a F-850 XLT 4X4?
  • 66 mins - Revenge is a dish best served sticky atop a tin roof on a moonlit night.
  • 68 mins - I swear, what I said at the 66 minute mark made perfect sense when I said it, but now I'm not so sure. Did he just say "douche?"
  • 82 mins - That must be an adamantium pool stick.
  • 101 mins - Stop aiming at the headlights you idiots.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note roadhouse1.wav Dalton: "People who really want to have a good time won't come to a slaughterhouse, and we've got entirely too many troublemakers here. Too many forty-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers, and trustees of modern chemistry. It's going to change."
Green Music Note roadhouse2.wav Elizabeth: "How's a guy like you end up a bouncer?"
Dalton: "Just lucky I guess."
Green Music Note roadhouse3.wav Wade: "You got a skinny little runt named Dalton working here?"
Green Music Note roadhouse4.wav Jimmy: "Prepare to die!"
Dalton: "You are such an a**hole."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Cliproadhouse1.mpg - 12.0m
Dalton showing the bouncers the ancient art of bouncing.

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