Patrick Swayze died yesterday at age 57 after a nearly two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer. A lot of tributes to Swayze will laud his roles in Dirty Dancing and Ghost. But my favorite Swayze flick is the one sandwiched between the two: Road House (although Red Dawn is an '80s wet dream for G.I. Joe-loving prepubescent boys).
In Road House, Swayze played Dalton, a professional bouncer from Los Angeles hired to clean up a small town bar, the Double Deuce, in Jasper, Missouri.
Jasper is real, and about a two-hour-and-twenty-minute drive from here. But there's no Double Deuce.
Road House was such a quirky pleasure that I watched it whenever I saw it on TBS or whatever cable channel always played it. In 2004, I read a piece by Chuck Klosterman in Esquire summing up the flick's odd greatness:
Outside the genre of sci-fi, I can't think of any film less plausible than Road House. Every element of the story is wholly preposterous: the idea of Swayze being a nationally famous bouncer (with a degree in philosophy), the concept of such a superviolent bar having such an attractive clientele, the likelihood of a tiny Kansas town having such a sophisticated hospital, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Every single scene includes at least one detail that could never happen in real life. So does that make Road House bad? No. It makes Road House perfect. Because Road House exists in a parallel reality that is more fanciful (and more watchable) than The Lord of the Rings. The characters in Road House live within the mythology of rural legend while grappling with exaggerated moral dilemmas and neoclassical archetypes. I don't feel guilty for liking any of that. Road House also includes a monster truck. I don't feel guilty for liking that, either.Klosterman is right about all but one thing: The movie was set in Missouri.
Hopefully, Swayze's pain don't hurt no more.