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Case Number 00363

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The Bachelor

New Line // 1999 // 102 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // March 7th, 2000

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All Rise...

The Charge

Would you marry this man for $100 Million?

Opening Statement

The Bachelor is one of those films you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Not if you have any sense of decency. Chris O'Donnell waltzes through this production with his eyes wide open, trying to look all sweet and cuddly. It's not enough, not nearly enough, not even close to being enough to carry this picture.

The Evidence

This disc exemplifies what New Line does best. They absolutely and without fail, provide top-notch video transfers and solid audio tracks for their DVDs. We have our choice between a 1.851 anamorphic transfer or a pan & scan transfer, both on one side of the dual layered disc. The video here is excellent, as usual. Colors are deeply saturated and there is no evidence of grain or other artifacts. Many of the shots, especially toward the end of the movie are shot outside and are fairly brightly lit. These types of shots often give fits to DVD masters doing work for other studios. This does not effect the teams at New Line and Laser Pacific. They simply keep pumping out very good, and sometimes, reference quality discs.

The audio here is decent as well. New Line again gives us a choice of a Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby Stereo Surround mix, both in English only. The disc includes the always welcome English subtitles as well (even though they are not needed to understand any dialogue here). Being a brand new 1999 movie, the sound is modern and without major fault, as expected. Dialogue is well centered and there are no annoying hisses or pops evident. The soundstage isn't quite as deep or wide as it could be, but what would you expect from a sappy romantic comedy.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

There is much to recommend against ever seeing this film, but the largest culprit is undoubtedly the script. In typically formulaic romantic comedy style we are rushed into a relationship between Jimmie (Chris O'Donnell, Fried Green Tomatoes, Scent of a Woman, The Three Musketeers) and Anne (Renee Zellweger, Jerry Maguire, Dazed and Confused, Reality Bites). In the first 15 minutes of the film we are led to believe that Jimmie and Anne have met, fallen deeply in love and spent three years of unmarried bliss together. Despite this cursory look at their lives, we are supposed to feel something, anything about these characters. The problem is I couldn't have cared less. The filmmakers invested nothing in developing these characters, so why should I invest my effort in caring about them. I know nothing to recommend them to me, as a viewer. By that time, we only know that Jimmie is commitment-phobic and is enjoying his single life with Anne. We learn absolutely NOTHING about Anne. Not one shred of her is exposed for our consumption.

The rest of the plot goes like this. Jimmie watches all his friends fall prey to marriage. He feels that he and Anne have gotten to "that place" where he must make a move or lose her forever (despite the fact that Anne has hardly even said a word to this point—to speak nothing of even hinting at an ultimatum). Jimmie botches a marriage proposal and Anne balks. The next day, Jimmie's grandfather (Peter Ustinov) passes on into the great unknown, leaving a video-taped will (what, he didn't have a DVD recorder?) which states that in order for Jimmie to inherit the $100 million left to him, he must satisfy a few conditions. First, he must marry by 6:05 PM on his 30th birthday (about 30 hours away). Then he must conceive a child within 5 years of the union and he must spend at least 10 years faithfully married and spend no more than one night per month apart from his wife during hose 10 years.

After botching a second proposal to Anne (yes, the money was that important), Jimmie runs off and starts proposing to every woman he ever slept with, in hopes he can pull off the wedding by 6:05 the following day. Hilarity, er, I mean boredom, ensues. The film is filled with unfunny moments. You know the type where it's actually painful to watch because it's not nearly as funny as it is supposed to be.

Despite the film's 102 minute run time, the script is FILLED with plot holes. Here is a cursory list, just off the top of my head. If the money is to be used to ward off a buyout offer from a competitor, how will that happen if Jimmie has to wait ten years to satisfy the will's clauses and inherit the money? How are we supposed to actually LIKE Jimmie (and we clearly are) when he is willing to go about asking every woman he knows to marry him just so he can inherit the money? Did the director actually think that showing us the employees at the factory Jimmie owned with his grandfather would make us feel sympathy for his plight and justify his actions? Lastly, what gives a church full of women wearing wedding dresses in answer to a newspaper headline looking for a bride for the 100 million dollarman the right to start acting all high and mighty criticizing him for his lack of commitment?

Don't get me wrong, there are some funny moments in The Bachelor, and they both worked just swell. Comparing a single guy to a wild stallion or a wolf was a funny bit once or twice. But four or five times? Brooke Shields' cameo appearance was somewhat funny, but dragged on FAR too long and repeated the same bit WAY too many times, so that what started off as a refreshing and funny scene just felt dull and laggard.

Some of the other actors were decent as well, just neither of the two main characters. O'Donnell couldn't carry a film if someone slipped a DVD into his pocket. He has to come to grips with this fact and start playing supporting roles again where he can stand by and look cute or something. Renee Zellweger obviously has talent, but it is underused and underdeveloped here. Ed Asner was also underused, but Hal Holbrook just about stole the show, with many underplayed moments that were genuinely funny. I actually enjoyed Artie Lang as the sidekick here. His presence was about all that kept me interested, despite seriously overplaying his part as Jimmie's sidekick . As Anne's sister, Mary Shelton was refreshing and showed some talent, but looks way too much like Heather Graham for my taste. I was continually distracted by that fact, but I guess that's something that just cannot be helped. And what the hell was Mariah Carey doing in this film? Just wondering.

Closing Statement

Well, I've spent enough time bashing this film. You get the point. There is little to recommend this, unless you are in dire need of a Chris O'Donnell sweetness fix. If you must see it anyway, I highly recommend a rental.

The Verdict

Chris O'Donnell is sentenced to a few more movies with talented actors, so he can pick up some acting tips. Renee Zellweger is asked to seek better counsel in choosing her roles. Hal Holbrook is begged to find some more roles, as it was most refreshing to see him strut his stuff. New Line is dismissed from the complaint with the thanks of the court.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 89
Audio: 86
Extras: 35
Acting: 74
Story: 62
Judgment: 69

Perp Profile

Studio: New Line
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Comedy
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailer
• Talent Filmographies w/ link to Trailer for In Love and War
• Plug for Red Hot Organization - An Aids relief organization


• IMDb
• Official Site

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