Let it turn to something else.
Patrick Swayze, star of some of the most popular films of the last three decades, has passed away after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was fifty-seven.
For most, Swayze will be best remembered as the dreamboat dance instructor Johnny Castle or the devoted-beyond-the-grave husband Sam Wheat - which is fine, as he was excellent in both of those roles. But I've a feeling AICN readers won't be leading with DIRTY DANCING or GHOST as they start their own personal Swayze-thons tonight. For some, the go-to film will be POINT BREAK, Kathryn Bigelow's classic action film starring Swayze as the soulful adrenaline junkie/bank robber Bodhi. For others, it'll be RED DAWN, where Swayze stood tall as Jed Eckert, no-nonsense leader of the Russkie-battlin' Wolverines.
There are no bad choices here, but I'm going straight to the epitome of Swayze cool and throwing in one of the most entertaining movies ever made: ROAD HOUSE. Released in the spring of 1989, the Rowdy Harrington-directed masterpiece is a bone-snapping, booze-guzzling, throat-extracting tutorial in the art of cooling - and it's hard to imagine it working as wonderfully as it does with anyone but Swayze in the lead. Cast Jean Claude Van Damme, and it would've been completely silly (and made for half the budget); go with Steven Seagal, and it would've been downright creepy. But with Swayze, there's a strange, goofy sweetness that keeps the film from being a sleazy wallow in gratuitous violence.
And that's what I liked most about Swayze: there was almost always a good-natured goofiness to every character he brought to life. Whether cast as a gruff older brother, a badass minor league hockey player or a no-nonsense trucker, Swayze would imbue these people with a lightness and an innate kindness that other action movie stars of his era couldn't quite summon.
In talking with people who worked with Swayze over the years, this was evidently who he was: a nice, generous, kinda goofy guy. All you have to do is turn on cable news this evening to see that these qualities are in short supply nowadays. We could all stand to be a little more like Swayze. We could all work a little harder at being... nice.
Until it's time...