The Key West Mystique

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Road House

Welcome to “Road House” | Good for some Keys laughs

By Linda Grist Cunningham, editor and proprietor

Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of Key West Island News and KeyWestWatch Media LLC. She and her husband, a park ranger at Fort Zach, live in Key West with their Cat 5s.

03/29/2024

Welcome to the “Road House” on Glass Key up the road a piece. You know it’s fiction when the pay is five thousand bucks a week plus a place to live, but there’s also a cuppa Cuban coffee and Hemingway slept here. You know, Ernest Hemingway? What more could ya ask? How ’bout a hospital 25 minutes away, give or take a little depending on traffic?

Like any good Keys girl, I had to see what the hoopla was all about, so I binged the two “Road House” movies this week. First up was the just-released remake of 1989’s low-camp, cheeky, breezy pseudo-Western. Then I did the same with the original. Trust me when I tell you that’s four hours of my life Imma not getting back.

Plot lines are thin, scripts are atrociously cliche-ridden, the heroes are misfits, the damsels are in distress and the villains are not nearly as enthralling as, say, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, much less Auric Goldfinger. I lost count of the dead and mayhem-mangled bodies (all guys, come to think of it).

Not even the strangely painful-looking six-pack abs on Jake Gyllenhaal, the remake’s leading male, could make up for the rest of it. I couldn’t stop imagining Gyllenhaal a couple decades from now with an older gentleman’s paunch. At least the original had a long-haired Sam Elliott as Patrick Swayze’s sidekick.

The original “Road House” is a good bad movie. The remake is just, well, bad. If you’re going to pick one, go with the original. At least I laughed aloud a coupla times and there IS that preposterous line, “Prepare to die.” But, hey, let’s admit for accuracy’s sake, I am not the target audience for either of these movies.

Seven Mile Bridge
The New Old Seven Mile Bridge

Welcome to “Road House” | Not exactly Keys friendly

So why watch the “Road House” 2024 remake? Other than because I needed a mindless break after covering the Monroe County Tourist Development Council meeting Tuesday morning? Simple. Because the remake had Keys stuff in it. Like all good locals I just had to see Fred the Tree and the Seven Mile Bridge in a movie.

Fred and his baby brother looked good in their cameo, the Seven Mile (old and new) flashed past in an eye blink. But after those fleeting authentic Keys scenes, we quickly transport to places clearly not the Keys. If you’re craving tropical seascapes, by all means, give it a watch.

Still, it was fun to lean over to Ranger Ed and say things like “There’s no sandbar in the Keys on a perfect day with one boat and two people.” And who in the world would say “Keys six-toed cats”? Everyone knows six-toed cats are in Key West where Hemingway slept. For real.

The scriptwriters threw us an occasional local-flavor bone, like a really dumb conversation about the pronunciation of “conch” and the making of pink pearls. And there was the toss-off yokel-to-city-boy line “You think we don’t have internet out here?” I can’t help but wonder what Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay says about his movie counterpart, the corrupt-but-eventually-redeemed Big Dick. All in good fun, of course.

TMZ, the celebrity news and entertainment powerhouse, screamed this headline on March 26: “Rowdy portrayal of Key West is blasphemy” with three exclamation points. (Note to TMZ headline writer: Wrong word choice but I get the idea.)

Key West Mayor Teri Johnston told TMZ she didn’t much appreciate the “drug-filled and crime-ridden portrayal of the Florida Keys … saying that might’ve been the Keys in the ’70s and ’80s, but it’s a whole new ball game in 2024!” I doubt the exclamation point was from Mayor Teri. Not her style.

Monroe County Mayor Holly Raschein told TMZ “the only accurate depiction of the Florida Keys was their local attraction, Fred the Tree on the Seven Mile Bridge. Mayor Raschein’s quick to say “Road House’ was filmed in the Dominican Republic and not in her fair County.” Pretty sure Mayor Holly didn’t say “fair county,” either. Oh, well, leave it to TMZ to over-hype things.

And, for heavens’ sake, we don’t have cages on our bands and musicians. Key West can get darn rowdy but, cages, really?

The best line of all sounded like my mother’s admonition to me when I complained about things. “But,” she’d say, “you live in Key West.” Only in the movie that becomes “[Four-letter word I can’t use in print] happens. Only here it happens on a beautiful day.”

Perfect. Almost worth watching the movie just for that.

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