"Was it intended as a parody?"
Asked Roger Ebert in his original review of the Patrick Swayze film "Road House
," which premiered in 1989.
There's a case to be made for parody. The script was coauthored by screenwriter Hilary Henkin, whose work has often had a strong ironic sensibility, including the original script for Wag the Dog
, as well as the stunning noir pastiche Romeo is Bleeding
, and the misguided cop comedy Fatal Beauty
Whether intentional or not, the film consists of a selection of over-the-top set pieces, including Jasper
's Double Deuce
bar, where the clientele is exclusively "troublemakers ... Too many 40-year-old adolescents, felons, power drinkers and trustees of modern chemistry." We see the bar transform over the course of the film from a dive where blind bluesman Jeff Healey
plays behind chicken wire
(Blues Brothers-like) to a reasonable establishment. This is thanks to Dalton, an NYU-educated philosophy student who has taken up work as a bouncer, played by Patrick Swayze. How? A lot of face punches
Swayze manages to rent himself a $100/month room above a barn that coincidentally happens to be right opposite a pond from the film's villain, Brad Wesley, played by Jackie Treehorn himself, Ben Gazzara
. They spend a lot of the film watching each other from open barn doors and three wheel recreational vehicles. (Alas, some consider Gazzara a less than ideal movie villain
.) Gazzara's house is a wonder, filled with stuffed game. His minions drive monster trucks
and bleed too much
. He's also not much of a driver
. His villainy is confined mostly to small-town political machine politics, and he boasts that he's bringing a J.C. Penny to town
So the film is mostly fights, although it does have one magnificent throat-ripping
. Nonetheless, it's filled with classic quotes
and its own terminology
Agony Booth offers a comprehensive recap here.
And How Did This Get Made offered their own extensive commentary on the film
It boasts obsessive fans, including Bill Murray, as costar Kelly Lynch recounts in this AV Club Interview
: "[S]peaking of Bill Murray, every time Road House is on and he or one of his idiot brothers are watching TV—and they’re always watching TV—one of them calls my husband and says [In a reasonable approximation of Carl Spackler], “Kelly’s having sex with Patrick Swayze right now." The cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000 was inspired enough by the film to perform a Patrick Swayze Christmas song
. Rifftrax has also tackled the film; samples begin here
WMFU's deejay (and later Monk writer/producer) Tom Scharpling once acted out the entire film on air, by himself; the episode is available at their archives
The work has been the subject of endless satires since it came out, including a re-edit that posits that Dalton is actually the villain of the film (and something of a dickhead
). Squidbillies did their version, titled, simply, Swayze's Crazy.
Parks and Recreation has also offered a creative reinterpretation of the film
Best still, in 2003 the film was adapted into an Off-Broadway musical with the astonishing title Road House: The Stage Version Of The Cinema Classic That Starred Patrick Swayze, Except This One Stars Taimak From The 80’s Cult Classic “The Last Dragon” Wearing A Blonde Mullet Wig
. The title sums up the adaptation, albeit neglecting to mention that the film's extensive fight choreography was recreated on a stage with the help of harnesses, bungees, and trampolines.
Jeff Healey lost a long battle with cancer in 2008
. Patrick Swayze died in 2009
. Ben Gazzara passed away in 2012
. But at least they gave us road house, and there were never any sequels.
Well, there was one
. But we won't discuss it.