The late 80s and early 90s were a golden age of ridiculous action movies that were so cheesy and bad, to look at them with modern eyes makes one wonder just what was going through everyone involved’s heads when they made them. For whatever reason the world was hungry for action during that period though, and the more faux badass the hero was and the more unbelievable the violence was, the better.
Perhaps the ultimate example of late 80s, early 90s action cheese was director Rowdy Herrington’s (yep, real name) 1989 Patrick Swayze-starrer, Road House. It had everything that a so-bad-it’s-good action movie needed to be a success at the time: macho posturing, homoerotic fight sequences, random female nudity, throats getting ripped out, you name it. Despite the fact that Road House wasn’t really good enough to be remembered because of actual merit, years of ironic viewings on college campuses and late night repeat airings on TBS have kept it alive in the hearts and minds of movie fans, to the point where you can probably refer to it as a cult classic. And for some reason MGM seems to think that’s reason enough to try to capitalize off its notoriety with a remake.
The news of the remake comes from The Wrap, and if you think that trying to update something as steeped in 80s action cheese as Road House for modern audiences is a ridiculous enough idea already, just wait, because that’s not even the half of it. Not only are they going to try to re-heat and re-serve a film property that people really only enjoy ironically or out of some sense of nostalgia, but they’ve also hired xXx and The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen to direct it. That’s right, this new Road House could be the most gloriously ridiculous piece of schlock ever produced.
Of course, until we see who Cohen and company decide to cast as the new, most badass bar bouncer who ever lived, Dalton, there’s just no telling what tone they’re going to be trying to strike with this remake, and there’s no telling how audiences will respond to their efforts. Is there anybody out there beloved enough that they could step into Swayze’s shoes and not look totally ridiculous? Is there anyone who could lend this film enough legitimacy that audiences won’t see it as a desperate and skippable attempt at cashing in on the public’s love of the familiar?
Short of getting Ryan Gosling or something, probably not, and the choice of Cohen as director points to the idea that nobody in charge of this one plans on taking it in a serious direction anyway, so the best chance we have at this one being watchable is if Cohen completely embraces camp and makes it as over the top crazy as possible. To that end, I propose that he should take some inspiration from legendary professional wrestler Terry Funk’s performance in the original Road House, team up with WWE Studios, and cast his new film entirely with professional wrestlers. It’s the only casting direction this film could go in that feels right, to the point where the perfect group of grapplers to take over all of the main roles immediately springs to mind.
Seeing as Swayze’s abject awesomeness is one of the main things that kept the original Road House from being a forgotten failure, recasting the role of Dalton is going to be the hardest task Cohen will face when putting together this remake. That’s why cutting expectations off at the knees by using pro wrestlers would be the perfect strategy here, and of the current crop of wrestlers out there, the best guy to take on this challenge would definitely be CM Punk. He’s probably the biggest star the WWE has yet to stick in a movie, he’s got the charisma necessary to be a leading man, and he even has a bit of a martial arts background, which would help him back up the feats of badassery necessary to shut up all of the “I thought he’d be bigger” quips that follow the Dalton character around.
The female lead in the original Road House came in the form of a character named Doc. Her basic role in the story was to be a generically hot blonde that Dalton could prove his manhood by sexually conquering, as well as to provide a nurturing, maternal presence that would create some anxiety in the audience when put in danger. The original film turned to Kelly Lynch to fill this role, so it just makes sense that the most generically hot blonde in WWE history, Kelly Kelly, should be brought in as her replacement. Just look at that vacant stare and picture it behind a pair of glasses and a white doctor’s coat. Perfection.
The other big protagonist role was that of Wade Garrett, the grizzled old bar bouncing veteran who taught Dalton everything he knew and who calls him in to help tame the rowdiest bar in the world, the Double Deuce. It would be pretty impossible to top the casting of Sam Elliott that the original film went with, seeing as he’s basically the prototype for the grizzled old badass, but if there’s any wrestler out there who has the experience and salt and pepper hair necessary to be believable as a bouncing legend, it’s Kevin Nash. The guy’s got some acting experience to boot, and unlike his role as Tarzan in Magic Mike, this one wouldn’t even require him to dance. That’s a win for everybody.
Every good cheesy action movie needs to have bad guys who are just as sniveling and weasely and their good guys are pompous and posturing, and Road House was no exception. The big bad of the movie was a smug, rich jerk named Brad Wesley who used his money and influence to lord over all of the townsfolk in the sleepy burg where the Double Deuce was located. The original film tapped Ben Gazzara for the role, and the guy was so slimy that you couldn’t wait for him to get riddled with bullets and sent through a plate glass coffee table. As any fan of the squared circle will tell you, rich Texas stock mogul John Bradshaw Layfield is the closest equivalent the WWE has to a Wesley, and he would be pretty much perfect to serve as the bad guy in a Rob Cohen action movie.
Last but not least we have the character of Jimmy, whose basic job in the movie is to stand behind Wesley looking punchable, and then eventually get his throat ripped out by the bare hand of the Dalton character. There is maybe nobody in the world as inherently punchable as Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, and he seems to be one of WWE Studios’ go-to guys when they need a wrestler to play a role in a movie, so he would probably be the best choice to fill the sleeveless button-up that Marshall R. Teague rocked so classily in the first film. Just picture sitting in a crowded theater watching CM Punk rip out The Miz’s throat and then float his dead body across a lake. You picture yourself cheering and high-fiving your friends, don’t you? That’s because you have a soul.
Remaking Road House 25 years after its release might sound like an idea so bad that you can’t imagine anyone actually going out to the theaters to watch it, but remaking it with a cast composed entirely of professional wrestlers sounds like a car crash so completely chaotic that nobody would be able to look away. Please, Mr. Cohen, if you have to remake this movie, have the courage to go completely bonkers with it. It’s what fans of the original would want. You know, unless you can actually get Gosling or something. Then all bets are off.