It tries to be an "Animal House" ripoff, and for the most part, it succeeds, thanks to an absolutely hilarious performance by noted dramatic actor Tom Hanks. Forrest Gump, my ass. THIS was his crowning glory.Tom Hanks is a really funny guy, and every time he hosts "Saturday Night Live", I'm baffled that they don't put this guy in comedies that don't involve Meg Ryan, Nora Ephron, and me trying to gouge out my eyes with the remote. "You've Got Mail", indeed. It's from me. "Dear Nora, you suck. Die and burn in hell. Sincerely, Sean". Tom used to be so much fun, but he's been burdened with the mantle of "Serious Actor" and must work within those confines. But oh, he was great once.
"If you thought Hanks deserved the Oscar for 'Ryan'...."
The plot: Rick (Hanks) is gonna marry his girlfriend Debbie(Tawny Kitaen). His friends (featuring the ever-charismatic Adrian Zmed) throw him a party. Evil forces (like his fiancee's dad and ex-boyfriend) conspire to ruin Rick's fun. There. Plot, OUTTA THE WAY! Begone!
First off, his friends are idiots. Not funny, in the way that all "Animal House" ripoffs are unfunny. No, Neal Israel, writer of "Bachelor Party", it is NOT funny to have a loudmouth who eats a lot and drinks a lot, unless his name is John Belushi and he can do that ambidextrous eyebrow trick. Having a waiter who can't read is funny, but NOT as a friend of Tom Hanks. Tom should make fun of the guy, and then go hang out with John Candy or Steve Martin. Not invite him to his bachelor party. So, in conclusion, all his friends are lame, with the possible exception of Brad, who is depressed because his wife left him and attempts suicide in various humorous vignettes after he accidentally kills the sexual mule. Yes, the sexual mule. Such is the level of taste in this movie. Brad also gets the "Beyond the Sun?" line, which is the best line not belonging to Tom Hanks.
"Bachelor Party" brings with it all the tasteful stereotypes that made 80's sex-comedies so memorable - not only do we get horny Japanese businessmen, but several magnetic performances by nutty foreigners, best of which is the Pakistani pimp, played by a charming, Cary Grant-esque fellow named Sumant, obviously laying the groundwork for his breakthrough performance as "Store Owner" in the 1991 Oscar-winning film "Suburban Commando". His presence is magnetic, as is that of "Milt", his hired muscle played by Laurence Olivier in his last great performance.
Adrian Zmed was apparently famous when this film was released, possibly due to his having a role on "TJ Hooker". This is the only possible way of explaining his musical number in the film. Apparently, the writers of this epic production were studying "Animal House", saw the wonderful scene where Otis Day and the Knights performed "Shout", and said, and I quote, "Let's rip this off." They did, however, make a crucial mistake in having Zmed perform the number instead of actual capable musicians who will NOT, under any circumstances, put on a headband and remove their shirt (Tony Bennett leaps to mind).
With so many criticisms, it would be difficult for you, the reader, to understand why I recommend this movie. But I have not fully divulged the true genius that is Hanks' performance as "Rick". Talk all you will of "Philidelphia", of "Saving Private Ryan", of "Nothing in Common" (no, wait. Don't talk all you will about that last one. Talk about "Philidelphia" some more.) This performance leaves them all in the dust.
Rick is defined by Pauline Kael, in her landmark essay "Raising Bachelor Party", as "the guy who makes the sarcastic comments and has plenty of opportunities to get laid but chooses not to, and eventually ties his future father-in-law to the bed." That is Tom's role in this film. To make sarcastic comments about everything. And he does it so bloody marvelously. Tom plays the "Loveable and Obnoxious Goofball" to the hilt, and wins the heart of every audience member by making fun of the villains, getting his future mother-in-law to accidentally grab "Nick the Dick's" penis, thinking it's a hot dog, (well, it was placed in a bun) and by staying true to his fiancee, even when this girl he used to have the hots for (played by a young Meryl Streep) shows up naked in his room and says "Make love to me now."
His refusal to do so brought tears to the eyes of 1984 audiences, as women were touched by his devotion to Debbie, and men were sad that they wouldn't get to see her in more scenes, as Rick's fiancee wasn't quite as hot as this one, and seemed reluctant to be completely buck naked on-screen. There have been many debates over whether Rick should have married naked girl instead of Debbie, or just dumped Debbie and spent the last half-hour of the film slapping naked girl's ass cheeks like bongoes. This is not the time to discuss these debates - we'll leave that to CNN's "Crossfire". (You wondered why Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert could never agree on anything? Before this movie, they lived together. Seriously. After this, everything was like black and white.)
There are those who will see the video box for "Bachelor Party" and dismiss it as another "Animal House" rip-off, and go rent a Whit Stillman film. And there are those, like me and Pauline Kael, who realise that "Animal House" rip-offs starring Academy Award-winning actors as loveable shitheads are pretty darn OK. Rent this movie, and then tell me that "Storm Chasers: Revenge of the Twisters" contained Adrian Zmed's greatest performance. I dare you.Maybe it's just me, but I think that this movie is better than "Citizen Kane". And NOT JUST because it contains more believeable performances from Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten. It also has Wendie Jo Sperber, who is Bette Davis' illegitimite daughter. I swear.
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originally posted: 10/30/99 06:01:07