So I hear that Road House is about to be remade, with Ronda Rousey cast in the role of Dalton, the legendary bouncer originally played by the late Patrick Swayze.
I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, I love this stupid movie so much. It’s not a GOOD movie, but on the other hand, it’s nevertheless an AWESOME movie. It’s got fistfights, explosions, kung fu, rock and roll, monster trucks, naked women, and the mighty Sam Elliott. If it also had dinosaurs and a car chase it would be the Platonic ideal for guy movies. As it is, it comes pretty close.
Plus it’s built like a classic hero’s journey — a good king searches for the most accomplished knight in the kingdom to help him defeat an evil baron and his minions, and he recruits Dalton, a mysterious warrior with a dark past, with Sam Elliott as Dalton’s Merlin. (Or his Yoda, for you younger folks.)
All this weighty mythic stuff… about a guy who throws drunks out of a bar. Road House does for bar bouncers what James Bond did for spies and John Wick did for assassins. It posits this whole crazy underground world where there is a hierarchy and a brotherhood and a code of honor for… well, for guys working nightclub security. It’s completely insane, but the movie sells it with such earnest sincerity that you just sort of buy into it.
I’m certainly not a purist about Road House. (I don’t think it’s possible to be one. All of us who love it tend to love it with the same sort of we-know-it’s-terrible-but-that’s-kind-of-the-point affection. I don’t think any of us take it seriously.) So when I heard about the Ronda Rousey remake, my thought wasn’t Blasphemy! It was, Oh, hot damn, I hope they go ALL THE WAY!
Which is to say, don’t just flip Dalton’s gender. Do EVERYBODY.
The more I think about it, the more I fall in love with the idea. A straight remake of the original, don’t mess with the story at all, but do it with all the genders switched. It just gets me chortling with glee.
The challenge is that you have to confine yourself to actual working actors that could plausibly be cast in a current remake with Ms. Rousey. Because my hope is that this might really be what they are doing.
So who’s got the Sam Elliott role? The wise old bar bouncer that taught Dalton everything she knows?
Mike Gillis at Radio Vs. The Martians suggests Cynthia Rothrock but me, I’m leaning towards Angela Bassett.
You need someone with gravitas, someone that can do action, and someone that could plausibly be badder than Dalton. I think she ticks all those boxes. Plus I think she has a sense of humor and would really throw herself into it.
And our villain? Brad Wesley, the Ben Gazzara role? I think it has to be Jessica Walter.
She can do scenery-chewing evil (I still love her turn as Morgan in the 1978 Dr. Strange) and she’s got plenty of charisma. She could really sell not just the spit-spraying rage at Dalton interfering with the plan to control the town of Jasper, but also the smirky evil at killing his friends.
What about Wesley’s psycho enforcer, originally played with creepy homoeroticism by Marshall Teague? Leaning toward Michelle Rodriguez here.
I think she could pull it off, though I suspect she might be too small to be a believable match for Ronda Rousey. But I can’t think of anyone else that could do the physical stuff and also be persuasively homicidal.
And who should we get for the hot doctor who’s sweet on Dalton? The pacifist who is nevertheless drawn to Dalton’s dangerous personality? You need an actor who’s a heartthrob that is NOT an action star, remember. This is one of the harder roles to flip but after giving it considerable thought I think it’s gotta be Milo Ventimiglia.
But only because Dermot Mulroney’s too old. Young Dermot Mulroney would be ideal.
The owner of the Double Deuce, Frank Tilghman, originally played by Kevin Tighe? I keep landing on Sigourney Weaver.
She’s the right age, she has shown she can do comedy and drama… but honestly, she could also easily do Sam Elliott’s mentor role and Angela Bassett could be Tilghman instead. Either way works for me.
And Red, the auto-shop proprietor? Originally played by former Elvis sideman Red West? How about Bonnie Raitt?
Figure you are looking at casting a middle-aged female blues/rock musician with red hair, really, who else is there?
Finally. Who should we get for Dalton’s good friend, the blind blues singer played by Jeff Healey? This is my favorite casting idea of all the ones I’ve posited so far. You get Kathleen Wilhoite.
See, she was in the original Road House, she played the spunky waitress who was also a singer.
Since then Ms. Wilhoite has gone on to be a remarkable blues singer/songwriter herself, and has recently returned to acting. It’s PERFECT. And it gives you the legacy link to the original movie.
Those are my picks. But by all means, you should weigh in with your own down below in the comments. And if by some chance anyone out there has an in with Ronda Rousey, please feel free to pass this on to her. We are totally rooting for this remake to be awesome in any case, but think how awesome it would be with THIS cast.
Back next week with something cool.