OBJECTIVE: Watch a popular or critically acclaimed film we’ve never seen to the halfway point. Pause it. Work together to predict the ending.
ROAD HOUSE (1989)
THE LAST THING WE SAW: We paused at 00:57:00, during the scene in which Wesley has invited Dalton over to discuss the future of events.
And now… discuss!
Ben: Any movie that opens with a girl pulling a knife on a guy who then kicks her in the crotch knows how to move the plot along and hold your attention, and this one is no different. From the first injury, we’re lead down the path of… more injuries, but what will be the final blow?
Phil: Indeed! Murder on the Orient Express this is not! Anyway, Ben Gazzara has been sending his goons over now to take care of business a couple times, and both times they’ve come up bankrupt. Now he’s trying the Swayze “softly-softly” method by attempting to reason with him. First prediction is that Gazzara will come up bust on this conversation as well.
Ben: Funny that you use “bankrupt” and “bust” to describe the richest man in town, but yeah, Dalton dislikes Ben Gazzara’s Brad Wesley. Sure, Dalton likes money, but not enough to see Wesley bruise his girlfriend and extort the town. What’s more, I bet Wesley will threaten Dalton if he doesn’t take whatever Wesley’s offer might be.
Phil: So you think the conversation will be about money?
Ben: Absolutely! What else does Wesley have to talk about? He’s gonna tell Dalton something like, “Hey, you’re a real clever prick, I like your style, come work for me, shake people down for protection money… or else.” But he’ll say it all pretty, because Ben Gazzara and this movie’s dialogue are perfect.
“There’s no amount of money.”
Phil: That’s funny, I just figured that it’d be a “you stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of yours” sort of talk, but considering that money is what Gazzara prizes highest of all, it’ll definitely be as you say. Swayze will, of course, turn him down, and that’s when Plan B will go into effect.
Ben: What’s his Plan B?
Phil: Once he’s been turned down by Swayze, Ben Gazzara will get one of the Double Deuce bouncers to be secretly on his payroll. Using this spy, Gazzara will discover the chinks in the Double Deuce’s armor and attempt to exploit them.
Ben: That would be reasonable, but it won’t work because a) Wesley obviously can’t hire good muscle—
Phil: That is true. They are dumb.
Ben: —and b) he already has a hand in the bar’s business and might not want it to fail.
Phil: That is true. I am dumb.
Ben: I don’t give a Double Deuce what anyone says; money, power, and respect are the only things a guy like Wesley wants, and since he’s not getting any of them from The Swayz, it’s punch-thirty.
Phil: Well, I definitely agree that it’ll end up in a larger punch-up than we have seen hitherto, but it’ll be through the avenue of some pretty shady cloak-and-dagger team-switching espionage.
Ben: Dalton would be wise to be wary, because if anyone’s gonna perpetrate some hidden gang shenanigans, it’ll be Wesley. Actually, I bet he’ll hire Morgan, the future barber college student who called Dalton a dead man after firing him!
Phil: Oooh, could be. I was thinking it’d be someone currently working there—although I think his clean-shaven Hagrid buddy and the band’s new crooner gal are safely Dalton’s allies.
Ben: Yer a cooler, Swayze!
Phil: So, moving on, either with a spy or not, Wesley will try to stage a coup at the Double Deuce.
But Patrick Swayze, in his wave of cool, will “take it outside” and once again successfully defend his bar and its now slightly less inebriated patrons.
Ben: They say that Chuck Norris has a third fist hidden in his beard, and I think Swayze has a third foot that can roundhouse kick from his mullet.
Ben: I agree about the singing waitress; I bet she’ll warn him of any stirring plots before they come to violent fruition for the noblest of reasons: she wants his ass.
Phil: Yeah, that singer wants another glimpse of his backside, but she’ll wind up with the guitarist (also an ally). No, the woman that will successfully enter Dalton’s life is that girl wearing the tablecloth.
Ben: Seriously, she looks so much like a picnic, I expected her to be stolen by a bear or invaded by ants. Dalton has made an impressive list of allies, this girl being one of them, and he’ll rally these townspeople when the final threat gets his Swayze-senses tingling. We’ve seen mostly knives so far, so I bet it’ll be a gun, and it’s the late ’80s, so probably an Uzi.
Phil: To continue the Spider-Man metaphor, I think a similar sort of “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” narrative will start to play. Dalton will tell her of the dangers, but she’ll decide to come along for the ride anyway. Wesley will seize the opportunity and take her and threaten her, drawing Dalton in for the denouement.
“Wade or Elizabeth: one of them dies.”
Ben: I’m being nice and peacefully disagreeing. She’ll definitely want to ride with him (especially when he moves on to the next town), but I bet she’ll prove herself to Dalton with a feat of bravery and/or punching a guy. Maybe she’ll even save Busty McJazzercise from Wesley’s mistreating mitts.
Phil: If there’s anything we’ve learned from watching movies from the ’80s, such as Weird Science, it’s that women being damsels in distress was still a usable trope in filmmakers’ eyes. Even Die Hard falls into this. No, the Gingham Gal will be at the mercy of Wesley and Dalton.
Ben: Remember, this is 1989. It’s nearly the ’90s, and British hotties who can almost sing are about to spread the message of girl power. I bet you Thai food that Checkers Chick will slug an hombre, and if you lose, I’m still buying, because I forgot I borrowed money for Thai food last time.
Phil: That you did, Ben, and I’m getting pretty darn hungry. And I think you’re thinking of 1999, with the Spice Girls and The Matrix (the first one—in the second one she’s the ultimate damsel in distress).
Ben: And don’t get me started on the third one. That’s a whole article unto itself.
Phil: Anyway, the final showdown will occur at Wesley’s mansion, wherein Dalton will end up destroying most of it. Again, the thing that Wesley values above all is money and the possessions he can acquire with it (such as not one but two fucking pool tables), and with the fight ending up at Chez Wesley, the annihilation of his property will be a proper send-off for this film’s villain.
Ben: Why are you describing a solo act when Dalton’s definitely gonna get the band together? I’m not even speaking figuratively; the brunette waitress and the blind guy are literally in a band. Plus, Red the auto shop owner, FuzzyFace McFatBouncer, Tessa Tablecloth, the other security guys, and more will join his cause.
Phil: No, he’ll be doing this alone. As much as these villagers want to be storming the castle with torches and pitchforks, this will be a show-off show-down of Dalton vs. Wesley and his crew. I am sure that part of the reason I’m going this way is that I am of the belief that the damsel’s kidnapping is the catalyst to the fight.
Ben: I don’t really see the point of Dalton’s getting chummy with and being admired by everyone if he’s not gonna be their violent community organizer. Although, I would like to see him take on all the bad guys by himself.
Phil: Yeah! But remember, we’ve already compared him to Jean-Claude Van Damme, who often kicks ass by himself.
Anyway, after he succeeds in beating Wesley, Dalton will go on his way and move on to the next town in need of his expertise. His love interest will not join him, he’ll ride off like Shane—however, it will be ambiguous as to whether she’ll pack up a few days after the credits start to roll.
Ben: Uh, I think you’re forgetting that it’s either his way or the highway. Dalton and Patty Picnic will hop into his weird clamping-headlight car and drive off right into the satay. I mean, rangoon into the sunset. I mean, let’s eat and watch the ending!
Phil: The Thai Food is on its way!
AND NOW, WE FINISH THE MOVIE: