Directed by: Neal Israel
Written by: Neal Israel & Pat Proft
Starring: Tom Hanks, Adrian Zmed, William Tepper, Tawny Kitaen, George Grizzard, Barbara Stuart
Among a true dumpster pile of garbage that 80s raunchy sex comedies have proven to be, some rise above the average because some had to. It could be for several reasons but Bachelor Party shows that it takes the work of an excellent lead actor to make everything else feel manageable and having any semblance of actual comedy.
Catholic School bus driver, Rick (Tom Hanks) is set to marry his sweetheart, Debbie (Tawny Kitaen). Before the night of their union, Rick’s friends decide to throw him a bachelor party for the ages and unsurprisingly things get a bit ridiculous. Rick’s future father-in-law, Ed (George Grizzard) disapproves of this marriage and asks Debbie’s ex-boyfriend to find a way to break up this engagement.
There’s something special about seeing a Tom Hanks comedic performance, a style that allowed him to rise to prominence at the beginning of his career. Personally, I grew up in the era of Hanks taking on very serious roles that garnered critical acclaim. Looking back to his earlier work has shown the incredible range he has always possessed as an actor and he drags this film up from the dumpster to make it somewhat presentable. He helps it by nailing every line he has written for him and performs the physical comedy necessary to sell the scenes. Simply thinking of other actors stepping into that role would make Rick an incredibly unlikeable character.
Take one scene where he plays tennis with his future in-laws. They have a very conservative background and expect their daughter to marry someone of a certain class and stature, all of which Rick does not possess as shown through playing tennis. Instead of playing the ball as one should in that sport, Rick enjoys hitting the balls over the fence like he’s playing baseball. It shows their differences but that Rick can be quite the ass. Something that would be unlikeable with many actors, but Hanks delivers a charm like he always does, that makes it believable that Debbie would fall for a guy like him.
The rest of the plot gets into overplayed bachelor party shenanigans that try to get more extreme with each stunt to make the audience laugh. It lands about half of the time, but it’s priceless to see Rick’s reaction to it all. He promised fidelity to his fiancée and that things would not get out of hand, but his friends rented a hotel suite and invited plenty of trouble that will soon complicate the night. Also, don’t forget Debbie’s ex-boyfriend who will try to mess everything up to get her back and get into the good graces of Ed once again. For all of the comedy, it also has some surprisingly dark moments. Comedies will usually take a dramatic turn for its narrative, but one particular character walks along a dangerous path during the story and the film treats it as some big laugh. That did not come as a surprise as it matched the tone this film set for taking on any situation.
The conclusion of the film matches the tone set throughout the entire film with a well-choreographed moment for Rick as he takes on Debbie’s ex-boyfriend. My enjoyment of this film purely comes from the work of Tom Hanks, as he displays that he can make anything and everything work with this spectacular skillset. He did not have the best character to portray, but he always brings that plucky underdog quality that makes anyone he portrays someone worth rooting for. Bachelor Party provides everything one would expect from an 80s raunchy sex comedy, but this one actually has comedy that works most of the time. Whether it be from the introduction to an animal into all of the madness or the cheesy fight at the end. Nothing especially great but definitely a film that can be flipped on for some mild entertainment.