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If They Made It Now -- Road House
April 9, 2009 - John Whittaker
Sitting at the bar of the Frewsburg Hotel on Sunday, Road House came on TV.
My buddy Bussman and I were ecstatic.
Honestly, there was nothing else on -- no college hoops, no NHL game, no major league baseball.
What better to watch while waiting for the News Gal's bridal shower to end than a 1980s classic.
So, sitting at a bar, we caught a flick we'd each seen roughly 700 times when an idea hit me -- the world needs Mystery Science Theatre 3,000 back. If TV's going to show the same 200 movies (classics all, undoubtedly) every month, then we need wisecracking robots in the background to help make the movie new.
Since I can't do that in my blog space (don't think I didn't try to figure out a way to make it work) I put some more thought into what I, the humble Whitless Wonder, can do tto help make our old classics new again.
Who needs another Hulk remake, a Star Trek pre-quel or, God forbid, another X-Men movie?
Then, an idea hit me like a ton of bricks - I had to pee.
When I got back from the can, I pitched to Bussman the newest feature in my blog space -- If They Made It Now.
Occasionally, the Whitless Wonder will take a look at his favorite old movies, suggesting actors who should play the title roles now and make updates that would make these movies new again.
Since I caught it recently, we'll tackle Road House first.
1. The actors have to be actors who are actively making films or television series now. And, they have to be compatible in their roles. Seriously, would you have bought the original Road House if Marisa Tomei had been the love interest, or if Bruce Willis (we'll get back to this later) had been playing Sam Elliot? Of course not.
2. We have to stay true to the plot and feel of the original movie. No radical changes, just casting and detail updates to make the movie fresher. One of the big problems with the Longest Yard remake is the convicts winning the game. Ditto with Oceans' Eleven (in the original, the thieves get caught and the money burns up in a casket). We won't do that to our classics.
3. If these movies happen, I want my share of the profits! Hear that Hollywood! No cutting the Whitless Wonder out of the loop. He's got a wedding to pay for!
Plot Synopsis If Road House Debuted In 2009
A barroom bouncer, let's call him Dalton, an expert in breaking up fights without getting himself hurt or killed in the process, is approached about leaving his St. Louis club to come tame a Los Angeles-area club -- a place where rappers are gunned down outside with regularity. He agrees to go, packs up his 2008 Bentley and makes the cross country trip. He finds waitresses dealing ecstasy in the bathrooms, bartenders skimming from the cash registers and running domino rings in the back, unruly customers fighting throughout the bar and strippers doing unmentionable things in the VIP Room. He cleans up the bar, teaches his staff how to handle the club's problems, and then finds out that the mayor of East Los Angeles is using all the businesses as a front to kick back protection money before Dalton gets ticked off and topples the whole rotten apple. In the process, he meets a girl, falls in love and decides to leave the business to produce music videos. Aaawwwww.
Dalton: Jamie Foxx. I never would have considered him for this role if he hadn't made Ray, where he showed he can play complex roles. Before, he was too funny. He almost perfectly fits the role. He's kind of small in stature, though ripped enough to be convincing as a bouncer. Of course, in addition to being a philosophical cooler with the big heart, he's now also an environmentalist who cares about global warming and spends his daytime hours volunteering with inner-city youth. The ability to rip people's throats out stays, though, because that's just cool.
Doc, the love interest: Jessica Alba. Kelly Lynch had this role in the original, but Alba seems like the nod here as a nurse at an inner-city Los Angeles hospital. She was linked to Brad Wesley in the past, and her father runs a high-end street racing auto parts store that Wesley is trying to shake down for money. By chance, she is the doctor who stitches Dalton up after he is nicked by a stray bullet, they strike up a conversation and she agrees to go out with him. She is, of course, horrified when she sees Dalton rip a man's throat out on the beach, but comes back to him at the end of the movie because he's the hero, and that's what love interests do in the movies. I mean, honestly, would Doc, the non-violent DOCTOR, for crying out loud, ever come back to a man she just watched rip a man's throat out? Really. Would Ghandi have had Slobodan Milosevic over for dinner? Does a bear poop in the wood? Is a duck's butt watertight? Do you like these metaphors?
Brad Wesley, originally portrayed by Ben Gazzara: Don Cheadle. The News Gal and I popped in After The Sunset the other night, and Cheadle was really good as Henry More, the villain who wants to turn a tropical island into a haven for gambling, prostitution and drugs. In the new and improved Road House, though, Cheadle's a tad darker than he was in After the Sunset and less of a wise-cracking, Mamas and the Papas loving third banana. The house, where the final scenes are shot, could be his mansion in the hills -- heavily gated, lots of guards, scantily clad ladies running around a la Sid Ceasar's mansion in Dragnet, the movie. Yeah, I like it.
By the way, Gazzara was the balls as Brad Wesley -- I can't think of anyone better to have played that role.
Wade Garrett: Bruce Willis (no link because, honestly, is there anyone alive who doesn't know what Bruce Willis looks like?). Sam Elliot provided the sidekick laughs in the original Road House as the aging hippie bouncer, Wade Garrett. Now, Bruce Willis comes in -- looking a little tougher than Sam Elliot did, and, honestly, can anyone rip off a few comedic one-liners better than Bruce Willis?
House Band: Jay-Z or Ludacris. The Jeff Healy band was perfect as the Double Deuce's house band, but if this movie was made now, Jay-Z or Ludacris would play the house DJ in the club. No blind white boys needed to provide the tunes here -- and either one of these guys brings a sense of humor to the table. Jay-Z is more culturally relevant right now, but Ludacris was a great third banana in The Fast and the Furious 2.
Henchmen: Ving Rhames, James Franco (Spider Man), and Colin Farrell (Daredevil). In the original, Brad Wesley's henchmen are kind of 80s tough guys, except for Tinker, who was just a fat guy wearing a John Deere hat and overalls. We're going to take it up a notch here with some guys that would really put the fear of God into Dalton. Rhames just looks like he'd beat you for looking at him cross-eyed, Franco would be the guy who keeps getting his nose broken, and Colin Farrell would be the guy who gets his throat ripped out by Dalton in the end of the movie in the climactic fight scene.
Little Details That Would Have To Change, Too
1. Remember the scene where Dalton gets ready to head to the Double Deuce for the first time? He hops into his late 1980s Mercedes, pops a tape into the tape deck and takes off. Well, now, that's a Bentley or a Humvee and the tape is replaced with an iPod or an XM Radio player.
2. In the movie, Swayze rents a loft in a farmhouse. If this movie was being made now, he'd either be in a 10th floor walk-up in the middle of the Sunset Strip.
3. Who brings a knife to a fight anymore? That's so 20th century. The scene where the crooked bartender wants to fight Dalton wouldn't be a knife fight - Dalton would get nicked with a bullet, setting up his chance encounter with our lovely doctor.
4. The booze. Ah yes, the booze. Nobody drinks real alcohol anymore. So, when Wesley shuts down the flow of liquor to the Double Deuce, now he's shutting down rum, Crystal and Chiraz. No Jack Daniels being spilled on the ground in our remade Road House. No shots of bourbon. Let's be honest, they're probably spilling triple mochachinos outside the bar if this movie was made now. And, Dalton wouldn't be ordering coffee at night. That's right, he'd be sipping a Red Bull.
5. Imagine the celebrity cameos we could pull off with this movie -- Beyonce promoting a new album in the club while a fight's going on; actors galore, since this is the most happening club in Los Angeles, athletes (picture the beginning to The Rundown, but with actual athletes). Heck, you could even throw Jenna Jamison a job as a stripper ripping people off in the back, behind the curtain.
6. Remember the scene where Brad Wesley's driving down the road in his 1980s Mustang, taking up both lanes and running people off the road while listening to a 1950s radio station? Well, now, Don Cheadle's driving down the 405, taking up all four lanes in his Lexus convertible listening to Dr. Dre.
7. Since no one knows what a monster truck is now, we can't have Red's car lot with the cars being destroyed by Big Foot. Instead, now Wesley just takes a bulldozer to the cars on the lot, and later sets it on fire. And, it's a Lexus or BMW dealership, not a Ford dealer like it is in the original.
8. Some other casting decisions that we didn't get into in great depth: Morgan, the original head cooler played by Terry Funk in the original movie, is played by The Rock in our remake. Pat McGurn's crooked bartender character, played by the aptly named John Doe in the original, is handled by an unknown actor - I can't find anyone who really fits the bill. Please post any good suggestions in the comments section.
As for the rest of the bouncers, I say we raid the various professional wrestling/MMA circuits. Can't you see John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Samoa Joe and Cryme Time (a tag team from WWE) handling the bouncer duties after our hero takes over the bar? I can.
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