Directed By: Neal Israel
Screenplay By: Neal Israel, Pat Proft
Story By: Bob Israel
Produced By: Bob Israel, Ron Moler, Raju Patel
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tawny Kitean, George Grizzard, Robert Prescott, Barry Diamond
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 105 minutes
Review Date: July 16, 2010
When a woman is about to get married, she is full of light. She is about to commit to the man she loves and could wish for nothing more in the world. She emotes nothing but beaming smiles, deep-hearted laughter, and a small dash of anxiety. There is, however, one slight problem that frays her nerves, involving a rite of passage her man “must” take. Most women would agree that standing under the church ceiling in the witness of a holy priest would suffice, but men think differently. Very differently. Brides-to-be fear this rite of passage unlike any other, and if the Tom Hanks vehicle Bachelor Party is any indication of why they fear it, I can at least understand why. Sort of.
Bachelor Party is the epitome of schlock-cinema. It is chock full of continuity errors, shoddy match frames, club-inspired beats, and truly god-awful wardrobe. This film was released in 1984 and it exudes all the qualities that make cheesy ’80s films so enjoyable to watch (including these previously mentioned shortcomings). The proceedings are simple: Rick Gassko (Tom Hanks in his first starring role) has Debbie Thompson (Tawny Kitean), daughter of a wealthy upper-class family, swooning and ready for marriage. Upon hearing of the wedding, Rick’s friends insist on throwing a massive bachelor party involving “Hookers” and “Guns” all at an exquisite downtown hotel. The only things standing in their way is a family of would be in-laws that want nothing to do with him as well as a rival suitor by the name of Cole Whittier (Robert Prescott).
While the plot only makes for a thin yarn, it instigates a series of pretty hilarious scenarios and clever, albeit flagrant, gimmicks. The scenes that occur between the friends, while comic, are a little too noisy as the men all vie for pole position in terms of conversation. This was made more noticeable by their lack of chemistry. Sure, the men all seem rowdy enough to behave like degenerates amongst themselves, but they never really justify what made them friends in the first place. This same problem is apparent in Rick and Debbie’s relationship, as Debbie never vindicates her reasons for loving a lump like Rick. It still works because the individual characters, although indistinguishable from each other (save Barry Diamond, who channels John Belushi in his depiction of unabashed drunk), are lively enough to make up for the script’s shortcomings. A scene near the end that occurs in a “4D” theater is contrived but surprisingly original. It was an incredibly satisfying end to the film and what I think to be its most memorable asset.
Tom Hanks did not steal the show as I had hoped and somewhat turned me off at first due to his outrageous behavior. He grew on me over time, but I never fell in love with his character. The scenarios are what truly drive the narrative, and it’s fortunate that many of them are memorable (Cue the donkey scene). One recurring theme of a suicidal character, however, is so painfully unfunny that it approaches offensiveness and severely detracts from the film. This normally would not be a large concern, but when taken in the context of the film’s motivations, it’s downright inappropriate. This major gripe aside, the film stands as an example of what made ’80s films simple, hilarious fun. You may not remember this Bachelor Party in the long run, but you’ll surely have a good time during your stay. Just make sure to stay away from the foot-long hotdogs.
Kyle Kogan is a film critic living in Chicago.