Tuesday, April 16, 2024

“Road House” Premiere: Dedication to Patrick Swayze, Appearance by Protesting Director, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Muscular Performance

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There was a nice touch last night when Amazon/MGM premiered the 2024 version of “Road House” at Jazz at Lincoln Center: an opening card dedicating the movie to the memory of Patrick Swayze, star of the 1989 original movie.

Another nice moment: the presence of director Doug Liman, who has been upset with Amazon for not putting what was originally an MGM movie in to theaters. Liman even stayed for the after party, although he didn’t go on stage with star Jake Gyllenhaal to introduce the film.

Gyllenhaal gives a muscular performance in “Road House” as Dalton, who is now a former MMA fighter moved to the Florida Keys after accidentally killing a friend. In the old movie, the Road House was a dusty shack in the mid west. Now it’s a bar and restaurant on the water. It should be called “Boat House.” Also, Swayze never looked like he worked out. He was a dancer, who maybe practiced Tai Chi. Gyllenhaal is sculpted like he’s been working with a trainer 24/7.

Gyllenhaal and Liman approach the whole thing from kind of a Marvel perspective. Dalton is like a super hero who warns the villains up front that he’s going to make mincemeat of them, then does so like Iron Man meets the Hulk. (He likes to ask before pulverizations, “Do you have insurance?”) He’s very witty, handsome, and his hair is never mussed. At times, Dalton almost breaks the fourth wall with meta revelations. He also has an eye opening collection of lovely silk shirts that never quite button.

Well, Dalton has an enemy in Cheshire grinning Billy Magnussen, a rich kid whose criminal father is in jail for bad things. Billy wants to buy the Road House and all its adjacent property and turn it into a resort. So he hires real life wild eyed crazy wrestler Conor MacGregor to come kill Dalton and beat up anyone else in the way. MacGregor’s character is called Knox, but he’s really Thanos with full body tattoos.

There are other actors to mention, including a beautiful girlfriend (Daniela Melchior) and the spunky owner of the bar (Jessica Andrews). There are a lot of well groomed thugs and bikers, too. But the two people who stood out for me were Arturo Castro as the very funny Moe, who can’t stop snarking; and young Hannah Lanier, making her film debut as the smart girl who befriends Dalton.

It’s a formula movie, but in the best way. Mostly it’s about beautifully choreographed and staged fights, amazing underwater cinematography, and action action action. Liman made this for the big screen and it’s a shame others won’t get to see it that way. If you watch it on Amazon Prime — and I suspect many will — a really big TV will add to the excitement.

“Road House” would have been a box office hit. That’s all you need to know.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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