Pain Don’t Hurt but Love Does: The Road House Remake Removed All the Sex and Philosophy 

Dustin Waters
Dustin Waters is a writer from Macon, Ga, currently living in D.C. After years as a beat reporter in the Lowcountry, he now focuses his time on historical oddities, trashy movies, and the merits of professional wrestling.

There is a small moment in 1989’s Road House that is oddly missing from the 2024 remake. It’s not very vital to the overall film, but I think it highlights a major shortcoming of the remake.

Newly arrived in town to help turn around an unruly bar, protagonist Dalton is awoken by friendly waitress Carrie Ann who has brought him breakfast. In response to the friendly gesture, a groggy Dalton rises out of bed. It’s at this moment that we get a shot of Patrick Swayze’s bare ass and Carrie’s flushed reaction to seeing the future People’s Sexiest Man Alive in a state of undress.

This scene is repeated in the 2024 remake starring a completely ripped Jake Gyllenhaal, but this time the female gaze has been removed. As indicated by this slight alteration, the newest take on Road House is a surprisingly sexless romp. 

Despite Gyllenhaal being shirtless for a large portion of the film, his chiseled physique isn’t acknowledged by any other characters. Instead, his muscles seem to be shown for viewers more interested in supplements than anything human. 

This all ties back to RS Benedict’s essay “Everyone Is Beautiful and No One Is Horny,” which examined the sexless hotness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As Benedict put it, “modern action and superhero films fetishize the body, even as they desexualize it.”

For Road House, the closest the 2024 Dalton comes to any sort of intimacy is when his female love interest takes him out to a remote patch of sand off the Florida shore only for them to split a six pack and share a single kiss. The remake seems keen on reducing all the female characters to stoics. I think one key missing element is that the original Road House — despite all its dumbness and male bravado — had Hilary Henkin as a co-writer on the screenplay. 

I still think Patrick Swayze’s Dalton is the closest we got to an ideal Jedi. A philosopher warrior who chooses peace when possible and celebrates the various forces that connect us to the universe. This is opposed to the humorless celibates we ended up with in the prequels. 

That brings up another missing element from the Road House remake. In the original, the character of Dalton is the ironic combination of a professional bouncer with a degree in philosophy. His approach to bouncing is one slow to violence and instead focusing on de-escalation. 

This is why he sits by during heated moments in the bar and instructs his fellow bouncers to “be nice.” The 2024 remake removes the philosophical underpinning of this approach but maintains Dalton’s reluctance to intervene. Because of this, the new Dalton comes across as ineffective and potentially harmful to his new workplace. 

Gyllenhaal plays Dalton with a drowsy glee, similar to when Donny Darko got hypnotized. But, again, with any hint of horniness or philosophical wonder removed. 

In both the original and the remake, Dalton pushes away those who try to get close to him because of a lingering guilt over having killed a man. For the remake, this murder takes place during a live broadcast of an MMA fight. Gyllenhaal pummels his opponent to death for no apparent reason. The movie doesn’t care to fill us in on the why because the truth is that MMA is popular among the target audience and the writers needed some reason for their protagonist to be conflicted.

So they borrowed the accidental murder from the original — but they had to change it a bit. 

You see, in the original, Dalton was carrying out a romantic relationship with a woman, only to find that she was actually married. The husband confronts Dalton with a gun, and he’s left with no other option than to kill the man in self defense. 

But you can’t have this in the 2024 remake. Because it’s devoid of all the clumsy tingly feelings that are so common among the warm blooded. The human body is for fighting or cleaning up after a fight. 

And the dimly lit dive bar of your memories is free from the exuberance of drunkenly dancing with your favorite Saturday night thing. Instead it’s all just another glossy octagon with no heart or soul. Only corporate logos line the mat. 

Related Posts

We Cannot Stay Up This Late on a Tuesday, Golden Globes

Surprise! The Golden Globes happened last night! Apparently it was the 80th Golden Globe Awards, which seems like a big deal, but the show hasn’t been on for a bit because of racism. You see, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which runs the Golden Globe Awards, has not traditionally been an inclusive organization. At all. You know what, I’m just…
Read More

Why Men Should Run, Not Walk, To See Barbie

I took my 13-year-old son and his two best friends to see Barbie on opening weekend. It was easy. They got caught up in the whole gestalt of the event and wanted to go. My experience was similar to Laura’s. Sold out house. People dressed in pink everywhere. It was exhilarating, and brought me back to a time when movies…
Read More