The last party Judge Michael Nazarewycz attended where a donkey died was Democratic, not Bachelor.
Our review of Bachelor Party, published June 1st, 2001, is also available.
Shocking, Shameless, Sinful, Wicked. And the party hasn't even started.
In this space, I had originally thought to ponder the success of Tom Hanks over the whole of his (still thriving) career and how, arguably, he has had the greatest TV-to-film transition of anyone who has taken that path. (I can also argue that George Clooney is gunning for that spot.) Instead, I thought I'd take a more personal route.
Bachelor Party is the only film I have ever watched backwards.
I was a huge Hanks fan from the first episode of TV's Bosom Buddies and when he made the leap to the big screen, I leapt with him. If that can be described as "in for a dime," when he released Bachelor Party, I was in for a dollar. In addition to Hanks, the film had everything my 16-year-old self wanted in a movie: nudity, raunchy humor, foul language, and Hair Band Prom Queen Tawny Kitaen. With the boom of the mid-'80s VHS rental market, the tape quickly found itself in heavy rental rotation in my house, and repeat viewings begot various ways to repeat-view the film, including watching it on REW SCAN from the last credit to the opening card.
To this day, Bachelor Party remains one of my favorites from Hanks and from the 1980s. I jumped at the chance to see it on Blu-ray…and I swear to you I watched it forwards.
Facts of the Case
On a routine dinner out with the guys, bus driver Rick (Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks) announces that he and his girlfriend, Debbie (Tawny Kitaen, Witchboard), are getting married. Since boys will be boys, Rick's boys plan a bachelor party to end all bachelor parties for their childhood pal.
But the path to marital bliss must go through more than Rick's big night. Debbie is fearful that Rick might chase after one last hurrah. Debbie's wealthy family is furious that their baby girl is marrying such a blue collar doofus. Debbie's wannabe future husband, Cole (Robert Prescott, Burn After Reading), first tries to bribe Rick away from Debbie, then turns to more violent means. And then there is Debbie again, this time with her bridal party in tow, taking proactive measures to disrupt the boys' big night.
There is also a dead donkey.
Thirty years removed from its release, there are several ways to approach watching Bachelor Party.
One way to watch Bachelor Party is to discover (or rediscover) the early excellence of Tom Hanks. His charm is effortless and he plays the goofball not as the village idiot (a la Will Ferrell and other Frat Pack members of today), but as the court jester, one who is smart but bored and livening up everyone's life by playing goofy. You can see Hanks' cleverness in scenes where he he drops the goofy facade; that's when Hanks shows us the real Rick. There's a great moment when he and Debbie are laying in bed and they are both staring into the distance. She is insecure, obviously, but his worry is not about getting caught, it's about getting through it. This is early Hanks foreshadowing what would come in future great performances.
Another way to watch Bachelor Party is as a piece of '80s nostalgia. Several era-appropriate benchmarks of the decade stand out. The music is from '80s chart dominators like Wang Chung, The Police, and Oingo Boingo. The hair and clothes are like, totally. And of course there is young Hanks, along with post-Ratt/pre-Whitesnake Kitaen, sporting her sassiest Nina Blackwood-esque, just-been-done locks and fabu Merry-Go-Round ensembles. There is also Adrian Zmed. The TV star, who had been sniffing around success until he found some on T.J. Hooker, is all good looks and teeth, but what he lacks in acting skills he makes up for in hair. Oh, Zmed's hair should have gotten its own credit. The film is also something of a rarity for the '80s: a raunchy sex comedy that doesn't involve teens.
Hollywood of the 1980s produced an inordinate number of sex comedies—several of them legendary—that centered on high school or college kids. Films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Revenge of the Nerds, Porky's, Risky Business, and others all featured kids doing the same crazy things the grown men of Bachelor Party do here. This brings me to the last way to watch Bachelor Party: as an entry ahead of its time.
The adult comedies of today—movies with attached names like Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, and others—all stand on the shoulders of Bachelor Party. They have ridiculous premises, drug (and other substance) references, more dick jokes than you shake your stick at, and always plenty of room for sex. Just like Bachelor Party.
And they are no more or less funny, and no more or less raunchy than Bachelor Party. The details may vary from film to film, but the the over-the-top factor remains the same. I'm not about to say that writers Bob Israel (Ace Ventura: Pet Detective) and Pat Proft (Real Genius), and writer/director Neal Israel (Police Academy), were prescient in any way, but they certainly understood what formula worked, and it's a formula that has stood the test of time.
I was disappointed with Bachelor Party (Blu-ray)'s 1.85:1/1080p HD transfer. There is nothing special about the imagery presented, and the varying degrees of graininess, particularly in the lesser-lit scenes, give the film a tired look. The same can be said for the DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio track. The sound is okay, but at times the dialogue sounds tinny and is, overall, uneven throughout. The choice to go 1.0 surprised me, considering a previous DVD release offered both 4.0 Surround and 2.0 Mono. Perhaps the technical presentation of the Blu is an effort to give the viewing experience that '80s rental feel.
The extras look plentiful but amount to almost nothing. All six non-trailer entries have been taken from a single source and appear to have been promotional shorts, possibly used as quick-hit features on major-market "PM Magazine"-type infotainment shows that were popular in the '80s. This is not only evident by the repeated appearance of the same narrator and other similarities, but also because some clips and soundbites are repeated from short to short. The rough, unrestored entries were shoddily assembled for this disc, as evidenced by when the source video ends and the final image freezes, yet several seconds remain on the disc, leaving the viewer with a still image of Tawny Kitaen or Neal Isreal. It's as if someone pushed "STOP RECORD" a few seconds late on the Blu burner. It's so glaring, I thought my player was malfunctioning.
* Behind the Scenes—Three minutes consisting mostly of clips from the film with narration. There are also soundbites from Hanks, Zmed, Kitaen, and Neal Israel.
* An American Tradition—It's another three minutes like the first entry. Sound here comes from Bob Israel, producer Ron Moler, Zmed, Hanks, Kitaen, and Neal Israel.
* While the Men Play—Two more minutes of lather, rinse, repeat. Kitaen and Neal Israel speak.
* Tom Hanks Interviews—The three entries below, running 2-3 minutes in total, feature the star discussing the project. The only entry of note is Hanks' confession for his boredom with episodic television (which is what put him on the map). From Television to Movies (1:30), Tom Hanks Goes to a Bachelor Party (0:20), Hanks on Television (1:00).
* Theatrical Trailer
The Rebuttal Witnesses
In true Hollywood fashion, the filmmakers weren't exactly sure how to bring their tale to a close. Short of a brief epilogue, the film ends with a ridiculous chase sequence and a fight between Rick and Cole. Even in the construct of the crazy story, this is too much.
Bachelor Party is required '80s viewing. However, if you already have a DVD copy, I can't see investing in this. If all you have is a VHS copy, proudly display that relic on a shelf and pick up this copy for repeat viewings in either direction.
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