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IN SHORT: Sometimes hilarious, all in all a not-painful average dateflick. Rated [PG-13], minutes
Cranky remembers thinking to himself, after viewing director Gary Sinyor's last flick Stiff Upper Lips, "if you want to produce a farce, you'd better go really, really big." That's what we get in The Bachelor, which is a fairly average popcorn slash dateflick, with occasional bits of brilliance.
In a film which pushes metaphorical limits as it compares dating and marriage to the behavior patterns of wild animals, Jimmy Shannon (Chris O'Donnell) is a wild mustang doing his best to avoid the noose of marriage that has broken all of his friends and co-workers at the family owned billiard table manufacturing factory. Three years into an almost perfect relationship -- she's not pushing for commitment -- with the lovely, blonde Anne (Renee Zellweger) Jimmy's close enough to the noose that he's carried an engagement ring in his pocket for over three weeks. He's also wild enough to keep a box filled with pictures of all the women he's dated hidden in the closet.
Jimmy makes a dinner reservation at the one place in San Francisco where all the single men take their significant others to pop the question. All the gents wait for their dates with the glum look of the condemned waiting for the executioner -- brilliant moment number one. Moment number two follows soon after as Jimmy so totally botches the proposal, in words not fit for this page, that Anne never wants to see his face again. Anne's got her sister Natalie (an incredibly babelicious Marley Shelton) to console her, as she tries to figure out what went wrong.
Of course they're perfect for each other. What would otherwise be a generic break up to make up story raises the stakes by a) making the botched proposal the talk of the town (moment #3) and b) knocking off Jimmy's grandfather (Peter Ustinov) whose will leaves the boy $100 million as long as he's married by his thirtieth birthday. Which gives Jimmy 27 hours to find the one ex-girlfriend willing to marry for money instead of love.
With best friend Marco (Artie Lang) driving a borrowed limo and a local priest (James Cromwell) waiting in the back seat to perform the ceremony, Jimmy works his way down the list. Way down the list. While each rejection should get more and more outrageous, they don't. All of 'em, including the screen debut by singer Mariah Carey are amusing enough but they don't build up to the big climax, a totally desperate marriage ceremony to the ex from Hell, played by Brooke Shields. I won't spill how that one comes apart save to say it sets up what you've seen in the teevee commercials; what I label brilliant moments numbers 4 and 5. #4 is how hundreds of women show up at the last minute and #5 is how they react when Jimmy realizes that he can't say "I do" to anyone but his true soul mate, Anne.
Cranky said he wanted to see "big" in farces and The Bachelor saves, and delivers same, for the end of the tale. When all is said and done, this is a perfectly OK flick. Lots of good moments, including cool supporting perfs by Ed Asner and Hal Holbrook just never manage to add up to one great film.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Bachelor, he would have paid...
The Bachelor is an OK dateflick. It's probably a better rental if you're already paired up.
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