I have to admit that I never really saw the value of the first Road House flick, the Patrick Swayze “guilty pleasure” that can be found damn near any night around 2 a.m. on TBS or TNT. At its heart, it was a ridiculous spaghetti western where guns were exchanged for watered-down domestic beers and Eastwoodian one-liners were traded in for a putrid brand of misogyny and homophobia. It is precisely the type of movie that your average fatass post-collegiate swill boy will watch after he’s managed to come up empty after last call, wherein he stumbles back to his futon and watches it with one hand on last week’s leftover pizza and the other halfway down his pants — only to learn that the televised version is missing the backdoor scene and he quickly passes out with a dirty sock still wrapped around his johnson. However, if you can manage to stay awake through the seven-minute commercial segments, it does offer one of the more comically absurd closing lines: “A polar bear fell on me,” which tells you about all you need to know about the film’s grasp of logic. Indeed, in a way, Road House was the woman-hating, slack-jawed, dumb man’s Big Lebowski, though to even suggest that comparison is to taint the brilliance of The Dude.
Not content to leave bad enough alone, however, Columbia Pictures sought — in its infinite wisdom — to resurrect the Double Deuce (here played by the Black Pelican) and hire the slightly off-kilter psychotic Jake Busey to reenact several of his father’s real-life bar scenes. Columbia also knew to dump it straight to video, predicting that at least a few men would nostalgically pick it up off the Blockbuster shelves in an effort to reenact their dirty-sock glory days after their wives have turned in early to avoid having their pajamas soiled by Doritos-flecked chest hair.
The setup: In order to maximize the skin appeal for its upcoming run on late-night Cinemax, we start in a strip bar, where we have a federal agent posing as a pole dancer to break up a narcotics ring. Her fuck-buddy and the film’s presumptive hero, another DEA Agent, Shane Tanner (Johnathon Schaech, who also co-wrote), soon relocates to the Black Pelican after Wild Bill (Busey, who has packed on a few since Home Fries) beats the hell out of his uncle ‘cause he wants to take over the Pelican’s ownership. On his way to town, Shane runs into the requisite hot-blonde townie with a nudity clause (Ellen Hollman) and helps her fix a flat tire, setting up the sequel’s inevitable sex scene (for our instant gratification readers, move along — there’s nothing here for you). So, for those keeping track, Shane is the new owner of the Black Pelican; Wild Bill wants it for tax reasons; and the blonde is not too pretty to take a punch or a shiv to the abdomen if it’s necessary to move the story along. But the rules from the first Road House remain the same: 1) Never underestimate anyone or any situation; 2) take it outside; 3) be nice, until it’s not time to be nice, and the assumed fourth rule: female law enforcement officers aren’t allowed to fire a gun unless they are wearing a halter top.
It’d be nice to think that director Scott Ziehl (Cruel Intentions 3, Earth vs. Spider [!!]) might have amped up the camp value a little to counterweigh the lack of plot, acting talent, or production values, but he plays it straight, unfortunately. He thus fails to mine the over-the-top machismo, the mullets, and the one-liners like “I used to fuck guys like you in prison,” and “balls big enough to come into a dump truck” from the first Road House that inexplicably appealed to overcompensating men with penises too small to admit an appreciation for a decent storyline that didn’t rely on an extra air-conditioner to keep nipples cold. I’d also suggest that, like most movies of this ilk, the undersexed homophobes that fawn all over the tits, guns, and ass fail to recognize the strong homoerotic undertones, particularly in the first Road House, where Swayze’s glistening pectorals lit up the screen like the Holy Ghost beneath a phosphorescent lamp. However, the pecs — like the polar bear — are missing from Road House 2, but the bar’s house band does have a bass-singing midget. I guess you take what you can get.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives in a blue house with his wife in a hippie colony/college town in upstate New York. You may email him, or leave a comment below.An Impotent Ode to the Flaccid Powers of the Penis
Film Reviews | July 12, 2006 | Comments ()