This is an unusual week in Cinema 3. First, it’s Christmas week, a time when the movie house fills with parents trying to entertain their children who are on vacation, while studios try to pimp their oscar-bait and dump their long-shelved writeoffs. Second, this has been a week filled with brisk winter storms in my corner of the world, and there appears to be another one coming tonight, so I am not sure if the theatre will be open for a late show, and even if it is, how likely it is that I will be able to get there.
Fortunately, I did pop in to the theatre in the early afternoon to find out what the movie would be, as I usually do, and it appears to be a rerun of The Day The Earth Stood Still. And so it is my hope that, in the spirit of the season, you gentle readers will forgive me if I write instead about my favourite Christmas movie: Road House, starring Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott. I only wish that I could be watching it on the big screen; if I make it to the cinema tonight, the PSP will have to do.
“Hold up a second,” you might be saying. “What does Road House have to do with Christmas?” As you will see, Mystery Science Theater 3000 creator and star Joel Hodgson wondered the same thing during a host segment of one of their Christmas episodes, “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”:
Inspired by this bit of comedy, my friend Roger and I decided to spend our Christmas evening about 15 years ago watching Road House and cracking jokes. I kept doing so, alone and with friends, in subsequent years until it became a regular holiday party, then a tradition, then an event, and now it’s hard to imagine Christmas without it.
That’s the magic of the movies. A movie doesn’t have to be specifically about Christmas, and how (as Joel observes elsewhere in the same episode) a curmudgeonly old man or woman learns the true meaning of the holiday. It could just as easily be about how a curmudgeonly old man has his henchmen drive a monster truck through a car dealership, burn down an auto parts store, and kick the crap out of everyone in town until a stranger with a mullet performs a laryngectomy with his hands.
No, the important thing is that you and your friends watch the movie together, enjoying each other’s company the way that families are supposed to. Sometimes we lose sight of that at Christmas, and we need a roundhouse kick to the jaw to remind us.
So yes, Virginia, Road House is my favourite Christmas movie, and I say that without a touch of irony or jest. Over the years I have owned copies on VHS, laserdisc, budget DVD and now the “Deluxe Edition” DVD, and I’m sure I will own the Blu-Ray one day. I also own a copy of the straight-to-DVD sequel starring Jonathan Schaech, and one of my first forays into writing about movies on the internet was a review of Road House.
This has been a rough year for us Road House fans. Canadian blues guitarist Jeff Healey passed away from a lifelong struggle with cancer at the young age of 41, and Patrick Swayze continues to battle pancreatic cancer, which has a very low survival rate. I hope that you will join me in wishing him well, as I wish all of you a happy holiday season and an awesome new year.
As for me, I have one week left to go in Cinema 3. What will it be? If you’re in the Saint John area, feel free to join me and find out.