This movie is a cult classic, which means there's a possibility that one might not like it by the time it ends. Cult classics, by definition, are geared to specific tastes. That's why they have "cult followings." I had this fear going into this movie, which had been so built up and so immortalized for me in the last few years. I wasn't sure if it was going to live up to the hype. And even worse, if I disliked it, would I be ostracized?
Hopefully that fear won't come to fruition. While it's not perfect, even by cult standards, Road House is a hell of a lot of fun. I'll get the negative out of the way first. At just shy of two hours, I felt the first hour dragged a bit. There were some good moments here and there, but it was almost all building up the characters. I found myself constantly checking the time during this half of the movie and getting anxious when I would realize only a few minutes had gone by since I last checked and I still had over an hour of the movie left. It's just a lot of repetition in both talk and action... at least to me, anyway.
But then the second half of the movie kicks in (no pun intended). The villains get more villainous, the action gets crazier, and the tone of the film slips from regular drama to B-Movie goodness. This all builds up to a moment before the climax of the film that I don't want to spoil if you haven't seen this yet. Let's just say it starts with an explosion, continues with crazy laughter and cheesy lines, leads into a fight, and ends with something that--no joke--made my eyes literally widen in shock at the unexpected act of pure awesomeness. I think my initial reaction was "Holy F***!" (Though I didn't say it.) Oh, and the climax itself is good, too. I love how the baddy gets his comeuppance.
Let's look at the actors and/or characters now. There's really no need to mention Swayze. He drips with cool in this movie, and I know I wouldn't want to face the guy in a fight. Ben Gazzara plays our villain, and hot damn is he villainous. A lot of movies say "This man is insane!" but there's always a method to the madness. Not this time. Brad Wesley is totally nuts and doesn't care whose lives he has to destroy just so he can feel better about himself. He's not in it for money or power. He has that already. He's just out to exploit it and be as maniacal as possible. But who really plays up the cheese factor part of the villain is his right hand, Jimmy, played by Marshall Teague, who is involved in that fight of awesomeness mentioned earlier. By the end, I was expecting him to team up with the dude from Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 for how silly and crazy he was. But who I really need to give it up to is the man himself, Sam Elliott. This guy should have a role in every movie. I'd say that would make it better automatically. Though it does seem rather blasphemous for him to be without his mustache. Still, he was awesome.
Like I said, I didn't find it to be the perfect badass movie ever like it was built up to be... at least not in the first hour. The second half, however, is about what I expected of the movie as a whole. It was pretty dang cool. The characters are fun. The story is essentially just a modernized western (stoic cowboy is hired to come clean up the town, lives on a farm, runs into problems with 'oil baron' or whatever, falls for local girl... all with a slow build-up that leads to a big shoot-out... and co-stars Sam Elliott). And it gets pretty cheesy awesome towards the end (with a little sprinkled throughout). Good stuff.
A Keanu 'Whoa'