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Road House Movie Review

A still from the movie road house with actor Patrick Swayze

Road House Movie Review

In keeping with this month’s Penta Sounds, we decided we might as well go the whole hog and lean completely and unashamedly into the world of guilty pleasures for our Good Vibes movie review. Given the number of tracks from the 80s and the reoccurring theme in our playlist, it seemed only fitting that we would land upon one movie in particular, Road House.


The 1989 film stars heartthrob and 80s icon Patrick Swayze as Dalton, a gloriously mulleted (let’s assume that’s a real word), tai chi practicing, philosophy graduate that also happens to be the best bouncer in the game, or at least the second best. He’s tasked with cleaning up a rough and ready, midwestern American bar and in doing so ends up being the one person that stands up to the tyrannical businessman that has complete control over the town. In the years following its release, this movie has undoubtedly garnered a cult following, but is it actually any good?


Well, we’ll have to leave you to make your own mind up on that one. Road House is a movie that one hundred per cent toes the line between being bad and being so bad it’s good (yeah, it’s one of those.) If you are looking for something deep or profound that will broaden your horizons, this movie is definitely not it. If you’re after a movie with more than a couple of instances of cheesy dialogue, some questionable acting and a quite frankly superb amount of roundhouse kicks, this could well be the movie for you.


This is a film that contains several completely ridiculous, over-the-top moments (one of the villain’s goons driving a monster truck through a car dealership immediately springs to mind) but hey, it’s all good fun, no? We do have to warn you that Road House might not be for the faint of heart. With a gratuitous amount of violence and scenes of an adult or graphic nature, you probably don’t want to watch this one with your parents or your family. Whilst it is far from the worst movie in terms of ageing poorly, it is ultimately still a film created in the 80s and thus there are a few attitudes on display that aren’t acceptable by today’s standards.


One of the areas where Road House really earns back some of its credibility is with its use of music and the soundtrack. Songs by the Doors, Bob Dylan, Willie Dixon and Cream are covered by blues legend Jeff Healey, who also appears in the film itself as a friend of Dalton’s and the leader of the house band at the bar. If you aren’t familiar with Jeff Healey, he’s a blind guitarist and singer that plays with his guitar resting on his lap – we can definitely recommend checking out some videos of him performing live.


Ultimately, Road House is a larger-than-life 1980s attempt at a Western (a nice little detail of the film is that most of the characters are named after cowboys and outlaws). And if you view it with an open mind, even some of Dalton’s clichéd pieces of advice like “Expect the unexpected”, “Be nice!” and “Nobody ever wins a fight” come off as charming.


We like this film because it’s unpretentious and it knows what it is, and that’s just under two hours of solid entertainment. We clearly aren’t the only ones either, as in 2022 production began on a reboot starring Jake Gyllenhall and UFC madman Connor McGregor. If it manages to capture the essence of the original, we’re sure that will be worth a watch as well.


Go ahead, grab a beer or whiskey and dive into the world of dusty roads, neon signs and kick-ass bouncers. There’s no need to feel guilty about it.


Still credits: “Road House Official Trailer #1 - Patrick Swayze Movie HD”, uploaded to YouTube by Rotten Tomatoes Classic Trailers

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