Why ‘Road House’ Can’t Measure Up to the Original

No Swayze or Elliott could save this by-the-numbers remake from itself

The 1989 film “Road House” isn’t a classic. It’s more like a “classic.”

Patrick Swayze’s honky tonk romp is both deeply flawed and a cherished ’80s film. Any attempt to remake it seems fraught with complications.

  • Too woke?
  • Too reverential?
  • Too over-the-top in that glorious “Road House” fashion?

How about too bland? And, worst of all, too unnecessary.

Road House - Official Trailer | Prime Video

Jake Gyllenhaal steps in for Swayze, playing a former UFC fighter struggling to make sense of his life. He’s offered a sweet gig as the lead bouncer in a Florida club called, wait for it, The Road House.

No, it’s not a funny line nor is much of what we get worth a chuckle.

Our new Dalton flashes his bouncing skills in a sequence that suggests this remake might be worth the bother. He’s a force of nature, turning a gaggle of hoods into a crowded line at the Emergency Room.

His antics grab the attention of a local developer (Billy Magnussen, a fascinating actor given a terrible role) who wants to chase the Road House’s owner off the property. Dalton also angers the local Sheriff (Joaquim de Almeida), one of the few recognizable character actors in the film.

Too bad the sheriff is as lazily written as every other part, from the Road Houses owner (Jessica Williams) to Ellie the Love InterestTM (Daniela Melchior).

Dalton and Ellie have so little chemistry they’re more believable as brother and sister … or just strangers who wandered into a film audition.

The original “Road House” brought the heat between Swayze and co-star Kelly Lynch. That kind of animal attraction is too Male Gaze-y for today’s Hollywood, alas.

Jake Gyllenhaal talks new film, 'Road House'

The film’s first half hour is remarkably flat, befitting a straight-to-streaming project not one directed by Doug Limon (“Edge of Tomorrow,” “Swingers,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”).

“Road House” comes to life when Conor McGregor enters the frame as Knox, the hired hand tasked with bouncing Dalton out of the Florida Keys and this mortal coil.

McGregor may not be an actor-actor, but his burly physique and charisma are exactly what’s missing. He can’t do it all, though, so no amount of scene stealing can paper over the insanely dumb plot beats and limp dialog. 

Where is Sam Elliott, even at 79 a force of nature, when you need him?

Gyllenhaal is arguably a better actor than Swayze, but he lacks the late star’s presence. The OG Dalton had a Zen-like calm that felt fresh given the tenor of the times. He read philosophy books and eschewed creature comforts.

'Road House' 2024 - New Year, Same ol' Dalton!

Who is this Dalton, anyway? He’s haunted by his past but bored by his present and future. Only the addition of a young bookstore co-owner gives him a reason to fight for his new neighbors.

Gyllenhaal is looking to project an inner calm between ab crunches. Instead, he just seems bored.

The new “House” echoes the original in small ways, but it mostly blazes its own trail. That’s fine, assuming said trail is worth a gander.

Instead, we get tired exchanges between Dalton and the locals, bland thugs (except Arturo Castro as a half-hearted villain) and no purpose beyond banking on another ’80s IP.


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Limon even struggles with the action set pieces. An attempt on Dalton’s life on a dangerous stretch of road features terrible CGI, crushing the moment’s power. Some of the bar battles feel cluttered and familiar. The film’s final fisticuffs raised the stakes, admittedly.

The original “Road House” made you smell the stale beer in the Double Deuce. The bar band, led by blind singer Jeff Healey, cranked out tunes that made you want to get up and dance. And maybe even flirt a little.

Or a lot.

The club was a character unto itself, and the film spent plenty of time exploring its dark wood crevices.

Here, the club in question is generic to the core. It has no character, no soul … something like the movie in question.

HiT or Miss: Love 1989’s “Road House?” Go watch it again over this pale retread.


  1. Gyllenhall just didn’t seem very threatening, he had his puppy dog look from when he was younger. Right off the bat I was thinking for a supposed tough guy, it didn’t seem very smart to let someone just walk up to him and stab him. Overall, much was wrong. And the original was pretty stupid, although it did have a rewatchable factor.

  2. I liked it. After reading this review I sat down and watched it and I was pleasantly surprised. It isn’t a remake of the original. The only thing taken from the Patrick Swayze Road House movie is the name. It is a well done story. I really don’t understand the put downs. It was written well. Kept me engaged the entire movie and I hope they do a sequel. I liked the script, the acting, directing and production. I believe all of the haters wanted it to do a repeat of the original and then complain and criticize that it wasn’t done as well. It seems they couldn’t get past that original bias. But this movie isn’t the Patrick Swayze version at all, in anyway other than the name and even then it’s different. Like I said I liked the movie, I enjoyed watching it and I recommend the movie and give it four stars out of five.

    1. My old chum John Nolte liked it more than we did … but the biggest slight against it is clear – would you watch it again? I’m guessing most people will say, ‘no.’

  3. I enjoyed the original when it came out, probably watched it a dozen times way back when. After all these years Im guessing the fight scenes really wouldnt hold up today.

    Last night I watched the new remake.

    Ooof! Besides a few of the short lived fight scenes being very well done, everything else was empty, soulless, poor dialog, poor acting, full of diversity for no rhyme or reason. I was so disappointed.

    Now I know why it wasnt allowed to be pushed into theaters. Ugg.

    I think they should have at least used Dan Stevens as Dalton who has some charm and can switch on and off the fight mode (would have to beef up a little). I like Jake but man, even when he smiles and tries to be nice he comes off unnerving.

  4. Not worth the watch. Basically its just a continuation of the current hollywood formula. Remake the original and cram it with as much diversity and political agenda as possible. Lots of race swapped characters and platitudes. Just the typical DEI remake.

    1. Where in this movie did you see ýanything to do with political agenda, platitudes or race swapping? This movie is set in Florida, not bumf*** Missouri, so oh wow big surprise that it’s not just a bunch of white guys. You sure are a sensitive little guy though.

    2. “race swapped”? What the phukk does that mean? Did the 1989 script say: “Dalton – to be played by caucasian beefcake only…Wade – to be played by caucasian gentleman only…Wesley – to be played by…etc etc etc. Oh, you mean you do not understand why a load of southerners playing rednecks in a hillbilly town in the 80s couldn’t play the same parts in a 2024 cosmopolitan modern metropolis Miami movie? Hmmm, I wonder why?

  5. The original Roadhouse was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. I know many folks like it for the nostalgia and “it’s-so-bad-it’s good” in its earnestness characteristics. But I could never get into it. Though, as a fight fan, I might watch this one for McGregor.

  6. So many of these remakes are like reheated leftovers: similar in basic form to the original, but with all of the flavor sucked out. Why do they never have any of the style or sense of fun that made us like the original movie in the first place? Why not at least hire a filmmaker who can put a unique spin on the original material, rather than making it the most bland thing imaginable? Modern Hollywood is so frustrating.

  7. My impression of the 89 movie was that it was Patrick Swayze’s next attempt at a big movie after Dirty Dancing, but that was the only possible compelling or interesting thing about it.

  8. No talent green screen actors is why hollywood can’t make a movie! That and having to satisfy their Chinese Communist Masters!!!

  9. Of all the movies they could have re-made, they re-made this one?
    It would have been interesting to sit in on that meeting with the studio execs.
    “OK fellas, we have any interesting new original scripts”?
    “Nope. Well, the purple hairs did write a few scripts bashing straight white men, but we’ve already lost too much money this year. We need something sure-fire.”
    “How about a sequel?”
    ‘Sequel to what? We’ve already sequelized everything we possibly could!”
    “So then what do we have? Anything at all? What about a re-make? Something the Great Unwashed will actually buy tickets for?”
    “How about Road House? (laughs)”
    “Road House? Frack it. Re-make Road House!”

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