Road House is the Citizen Kane of bouncer movies. Actually, Citizen Kane is the Road House of dramas, and Star Wars is the Road House of sci-fis. Don't be turned off by its rather simplistic description on IMDb: "A tough bouncer is hired to tame a dirty bar." Yes, it is about that, but it's also about so much more. Look deeper, and you'll understand just how Road House dominates '80s cinema. Be warned before you read on: this list contains nothing but spoilers for Road House.
The movie is a modern Western, set at a bar (the Double Deuce) that apparently can weather storms of constant bar fights while keeping the late, great country singer Jeff Healy gainfully employed. It exists in a universe where bouncers are legends known around the globe for their feats of bravery and strength. And it stars the force of nature that is Patrick Swayze.
It's not hard to see why Road House rules, even among other great '80s action movies. To watch it is to love it. But if you need some more reasons why Road House is the greatest movie ever, keep reading.
Warning: this clip contains strong language, and lots of it.
Dalton is not your run-of-the-mill bouncer. He earned a philosophy degree from NYU (with a minor in "bouncing" and "ripping out jugulars"). How else can you explain these pearls of wisdom that Dalton spews:
"Nobody wins a fight."
"Pain don't hurt."
"Biggest man in the world, you hit him in the knee, he drops like a stone."
"Be nice... until it's time to not be nice."
I's one of Road House's most endearing qualities: amidst the wall-to-wall bar fights, it teaches you... about you.
Don't call him a bouncer. Dalton's a cooler - his underlings are the bouncers.
One might assume that bouncing is little more than getting a few of the biggest failed football players or wrestlers you can find. Not the case, according to Road House. Modern bouncers are more like an army of skilled foot soldiers led by a Patton-like general.
The movie also shows that you don't need to be strong or fit or big to be a bouncer. As several people comment to the lithe Swayze, "I thought you'd be bigger." This bouncing is about mind games, about being smarter than your knife-wielding opponent and showing a zen-like patience before striking like a copperhead.
Anyone who frequents bars will tell you that seeing an actual all-out, table and chair busting brawl is rare. But in the world of Road House, this is a daily occurrence. Yet despite constant replacement of its broken bottles, desks, and chairs - not to mention cleaning up the blood and teeth - the Double Deuce still manages to be a profitable business. In fact, it's so successful that the owner hires Dalton, covers his moving expenses, and brings on a massive team of bouncers.
Maybe they have good hot wings.
After the requisite third meeting, Doc (Kelly Lynch) and Dalton go at it in a gloriously athletic, graceful, and grope-y moment. Their sex scene even has one legendary super-fan in Bill Murray. According to Lynch, Murray calls her husband Mitch Glazer every time he watches the movie:
"By the way, speaking of Bill Murray, every time Road House is on and he or one of his idiot brothers are watching TV - and they’re always watching TV - one of them calls my husband and says [In a reasonable approximation of Carl Spackler], 'Kelly’s having sex with Patrick Swayze right now. They’re doing it. He’s throwing her against the rocks.' [Away from the receiver.] What? Oh, my God. Mitch was just walking out the door to the set, and he said that Bill once called him from Russia."