April 11, 2015

The Bachelor (1999)
Grade: 33/100

Director: Gary Sinyor
Stars: Chris O'Donnell, Renée Zellweger, Marley Shelton

What it's about. An alleged romantic comedy. Jimmie (Chris O'Donnell) is the heir of a fairly large company run by aged managers Roy (Hal Holbrook) and Sid (Edward Asner). Jimmie's best friend is chubby and obnoxious Marco (Artie Lange). Jimmie is happily not engaged to his girlfriend Anne (Renée Zellweger).

Because it is a movie, Jimmie has only a single relative, his elderly grandfather (Peter Ustinov). He dies, and his will leaves a hundred million dollar fortune to Jimmie, but only upon three ridiculous stipulations:

1. Jimmie must marry within one day.
2. His new wife must deliver a genetically confirmed son.
3. The beloved couple must remain married for ten years.
4. They must live under the same roof for all but one day per month.

One wonders whether such terms can be legally binding. In any event, Jimmie is so bad at proposing that, despite being the cutest and wealthiest bachelor in California, Anne and all his previous girlfriends turn him down. Mariah Carey practically laughs at him, and even chain-smoking golddigger Brooke Shields backs out when she learns the terms.

Now Jimmie is desperate, as are his wingmen Marco, Roy, and Sid, who stand to lose their jobs at Jimmie's company if his inheritance falls through and the company is instead acquired by some evil conglomerate. Marco takes out a personal ad in the daily paper on Jimmie's behalf. Because it is a movie, the newspaper makes it a front page story, above the fold, and hundreds of would-be brides show up at the Church for the opportunity to marry Jimmie and his fortune.

Meanwhile, Anne is predictably having doubts about her refusal. She forsakes planned trips and shows up at the church with her cute sister Natalie (Marley Shelton) in tow, in time for the inevitable public wedding. She even "finds" a perfectly fitting wedding dress. James Cromwell plays the dutiful yet indifferent priest.

Loosely based on the ancient Buster Keaton silent comedy Seven Chances (1925).

How others will see it. This film is sufficiently bad that not even its target audience, women under thirty, cares much for it. It was ignored by film festivals, although the Razzies should have at least considered Steve Cohen for Worst Screenplay. It turned out to be his only feature film screenplay, and for good reasons.

How I felt about it. The cast is impressive, stocked with interesting character actors. The budget is there, as well. Cohen's script is bad, by Hollywood standards, and the best that can be said for Gary Sinyor's direction is that it isn't funny.

Arguably, the entire film is a set-up for its big moment, which has Jimmie chased down the streets of San Francisco by hundreds of would-be brides wearing white wedding dresses. New Line Cinema must have drained the costume department stock of every Hollywood studio.

Those who have deigned to consider The Bachelor might ponder which gender should be most offended by the movie. Perhaps it is a tie.

One thing about the movie does make sense, though: Jimmie's reluctance to marry Anne. After all, her own sister is significantly cuter.