At The Movies With Josh: Roadhouse

The original “Road House” from the late ‘80s is a cult classic. It never worked for me. While I loved hearing The Doors’ song “Roadhouse Blues”...there’s just something about Patrick Swayze’s face that bugs me. Other than a handful of movies, just looking at his mug makes me laugh and not take him seriously. He looks like a lion, trying to act like a tough guy. I just don’t know how to explain it.

I was intrigued by this remake, because Jake Gyllenhaal is a brilliant actor, and we saw how buff he got to play a boxer in “Southpaw” back in 2015. He beefed up again here to play an ex-UFC mixed martial arts fighter who goes from being one of the best to sleeping in his car, taking bare knuckle brawls for small amounts of cash. He takes a job as a bouncer at the Road House in the Florida Keys.

This movie has all the usual things you’d expect. There’s the cute little girl (Hannah Love Lanier) who runs a bookstore while her dad works “a real job” to pay the bills. She welcomes Dalton into town right when he gets off the bus.

It also has the bad-ass biker gang that Dalton takes out into the parking lot and dispatches – first asking if they have health insurance, and if the nearest hospital isn’t too far away. Now, I’ve loved watching bikers get beat up since I was a kid watching Clint Eastwood do it in “Every Which Way But Loose” in the late ‘70s. 

Dalton does have a few funny lines in his fights. When his face is being pounded into a piano on stage he says, “This thing is out of tune.”

When he ends up in a tiny, oval-shaped boat with real life UFC fighter Conor McGregor, his foe says, “We have an octagon of our own,” to which Dalton replies, “Who taught you shapes?”

It’s just a shame that the few funny scenes are ruined by McGregor being so over the top, strutting around naked, and head-butting anybody in his path; or the usually reliable Billy Magnussen as the kingpin, punching everyone that works for him; including the guy operating his yacht, because he’s not doing a smooth enough job on the water. You see, the big guy is getting a shave on deck and keeps getting cut. That is easily one of the dumbest scenes you’ll see in a movie all year.

This film has so many flaws, I probably won’t point out each one. Early on, my wife and I were wondering why this bouncer, who is paid $5,000 a week because the place is so rowdy…would have fights every single night. It made sense when the bikers destroyed the place. That’s what their boss wanted because he was hoping to take over the beachfront property so he could develop there. 

Apparently four people were involved with this screenplay, and it’s baffling that all they could give us was dopey dialogue and an uneven story with unrealistic characters.

What baffles me even more is the director is Doug Liman, who was been involved in films I’ve loved – Edge of Tomorrow, Swingers, Go, and The Bourne Identity, 

The rest of the cast includes Jessica Williams (“Shrinking”), Daniela Melchior (Guardians of the Galaxy), former Encinitas resident Lukas Gage (The White Lotus), Joaquim de Almeida, and singer Post Malone as a brawler in the beginning with a fun scene.

This should have been a campy, fun flick where we watch bad guys get beaten up. Instead, it took itself way too seriously.

1 star out of 5. You can see it on Amazon Prime or Max.

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