FOOTAGE FETISHES: “BACHELOR PARTY”

“At Least Your Wrist will be Smooth and Kissable”

For all its rampant intemperance, “Bachelor Party” is a lot more conservative than most people suspect. 1984 was not exactly known as the year of New Liberalism in America. Reagan was firmly entrenched as Imperious Leader and enjoying great popularity, while anti-drug propaganda was almost as widespread as diatribes against the Soviets.

On its surface, “Bachelor Party” seems to be about nothing more than orgiastic sex and mass consumption of pharmaceuticals, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but look a little closer. Rick resists the many temptations of the party, most notably the hookers. His reward? He gets to marry Tawny Kitaen (though maybe we should ask Chuck Finley how rewarding that actually is). Of the two of his friends, who we actually see indulging in fleshly pleasures, Stan is roundly (and impressively) beaten bloody by his wife, while the nebbishy Gary thinks he’s found true love, only to have a devastating “Crying Game” moment shortly thereafter. Then there’s Rudy, the drunken lout, who never actually gets it on with any of the hookers and ends up with Desiree, the exotic mistress of hot donkey love. Que sera.

Wait, there’s more. While most all of the protagonists freely imbibe beer and liquor with nary a consequence, those who do drugs are shown as teetering on the edge of sanity (Brad) or meeting with an untimely demise (the unfortunate donkey). Alcohol kills more people annually than all illegal drugs combined, yet we’re supposed to believe that a few ‘ludes and a couple lines can topple a sturdy donkey? Conspiracy buffs will recognize this as a transparent Reagan Administration lie.

And while there are plenty of breasts, the roles of the women in “Bachelor Party” seem to have come as an afterthought (the exception being Sperber as Tina, who stands out thanks to her relentless henpecking of Stan). Kitaen is sadly outclassed in her scenes with Hanks, and she would soon be relegated to the hood of David Coverdale’s car. The only other female character of note is Ilene (Deborah Harmon), Debbie’s man-hating best friend. Like all of her ilk in Hollywood, we see that all she needs to loosen her up is the opportunity to make the sign of the three-toed salamander with a half dozen Japanese businessmen.

Slobs vs. Snobs

Many “Bachelor Party” reviews (when not using words like “shallow,” “derivative,” and “bestiality”) point to the supposed “slobs vs. snobs” conflict at play here. It’s true Debbie’s parents (and Cole) are rich, and Rick and his pals aren’t exactly brain surgeons (well, Stan *is* a doctor, but O’Neill is a department store photographer, Ryko is a waiter, Gary is a scalper, and Brad…does drugs), but this isn’t exactly class warfare we’re talking about. There is no simmering undercurrent of working class rebellion like we find in “Caddyshack,” just as the blatant caste struggle of “Animal House” is nowhere to be found. The party itself is a celebration of diversity, with plenty of moussed up yuppies, spiky-haired punks, and ordinary Joes and Janes looking to blow off a little steam. It’s also equal opportunity in that we get ample beefcake to go along with our helping of T&A.

The talent of the cast really runs the gamut in this picture. First there’s Hanks, who effortlessly plays Rick as one of those nonexistent individuals who is constantly hilarious (reminiscent of Peter Venkman from “Ghostbusters” or Ty Webb from “Caddyshack”). Kitaen, as I’ve already mentioned, merely shows glimpses of the great hair band video groupie she’d grow up to be. I liked Zmed’s O’Neill if only for the reason that rarely in movies like this is the best friend better looking than the protagonist. Finally, there’s Michael Dudikoff, and if you’re like me, you just wanted to have him end the whole “evil ex-boyfriend” dilemma by pulling Cole’s heart out of his chest, “American Ninja 4”-style. Honestly, why have Dudikoff in a movie if you’re not going to let him flip out and kill someone?

Remake My Day

My first inclination was to try to remake this as “Bachelorette Party,” but that was just my lame attempt to get Fairuza Balk and Monica Belluci involved somehow. There are too many pretty boys and not enough ordinary schlubs to easily cast a new Rick. Adam Sandler would be the obvious choice, but he gets no love from me after Mr. Deeds. Nicholas Brendon might be good, and he’ll need the work soon if this turns out to be “Buffy’s” last season. Too bad Don Johnson is so damn old, because he’d make a great O’Neill (and he could sing his smash hit “Heartbeat”). It’d be nice to get someone non-bimbo to play Debbie, like Parker Posey, but I doubt it, and I think it would be fantastic to get Hanks to play Debbie’s dad. Jeremy Sisto would lend a perfect creepy vibe to Cole, and once we perfect cloning we could bring back the man born to play Rudy: Chris Farley.

And maybe Fairuza Balk as Ilene.

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Writer Pete Vonder Haar takes us down memory lane for an in depth look at films we may have forgotten about. Some of these films will bring back fond memories, while others may force you to cancel your cable service in fear of coming across a late night screening of them.




Posted on December 16, 2002 in Features by
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