There’s only one true Sick Day film for me, a film so utterly re-watchable that I was amazed to find that it hasn’t already appeared in this column.
In 1989, at the height of his career, Patrick Swayze made an action film called “Road House” and changed the bouncer movie forever. A simple premise. Swayze is Dalton, the world’s greatest bouncer, who goes from bar to bar, cleaning up the joint, so that nice people can have fun.
“Shut up, you’ve already convinced me,” you say.
I know I have, but the beauty of “Road House” goes so much deeper than that.
Let’s start with the Swayze himself. Most appreciations of “Road House” fall prey to the all-too-easy cynical approach, and Patrick Swayze usually gets roped into that conversation too often. When I say that Swayze embodied the all-American movie star during his “Dirty Dancing”-“Road House”-“Point Break” era, I do so without a hint of irony. It’s easy to poke fun at his hair, “She’s Like the Wind” or his clothes, but during the late 80s and early 90s Swayze was the kind of movie star that we don’t see very often anymore. Whatever character, be it a dancer or a spiritual surfer/bank robber or the world’s greatest bouncer, Swayze went for broke, sold it and clearly had fun every step of the way.
But that isn’t to say that “Road House” isn’t utterly ridiculous, because it is. At one point, a local crime boss orders a monster truck to drive through a car dealership that hasn’t paid up. A stuffed polar bear falls on top of a morbidly obese henchman named Tinker. “Pain don’t hurt,” for crying out loud! Where modern American action films only have a tough guy and occasional sarcasm, “Road House” had fun.
Add to all of that a supporting cast beyond compare. The late, great Ben Garraza, a staple of Cassavates independent film scene in the 70s, looks like he’s enjoying himself as the dastardly Brad Wesley more than I ever will in my lifetime. I’m pretty sure Sam Elliott showed up on set one day, and they let him be in the movie without telling him. Blind guitarist Jeff Healey slays throughout the film as the bandleader at the Double Deuce.
As easy as it is to mock, “Road House” has so much color that it makes the modern American action flick look completely bland by comparison, so next time you’re feeling under the weather, take a trip to Jasper, Missouri to find out what I’m talking about.
And always remember to be nice.
Call them “cult classics.” “Guilty pleasures.” “Comfort movies.” We all have a mental rolodex of flicks that may not be terribly popular but, for one reason or another, they resonate in a very special way. Maybe you saw it at the right moment. Maybe you just see gold where everyone else sees feces. Whatever the case, these are the special favorites that you keep stashed away for sick days. These are some of ours. Tell us about your Sick Day Stash picks in the comments or on Twitter!