I just had a nasty ’80s flashback. I am not particularly fond of comedies from the 1980s. Sure, the decade had quite a few classics, such as Airplane, A Fish Called Wanda and Porky’s. But for the most part comedies in the ’80s were either overrated (Arthur, Ghostbusters, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Crocodile Dundee) or were crap that somehow passed for comedy classic (Mannequin, Cannonball Run, Clue, Best Defense, License to Drive, D.C. Cab and Superman III). Bachelor Party is one of those movies that would have gone unnoticed if it was not for it’s star Tom Hanks. This was Tom’s first starring role in a feature film, and at the time he was only known for the low rated television sitcom Bosom Buddies. The release of the movie was held up, and in the meantime director Ron Howard cast Hanks in Splash. With Splash becoming a huge hit at the box office, 20th Century Fox took advantage of Hanks’ new found fame and gave Bachelor Party a wide release, making the movie a second hit for Hanks.
For those of you who thought you left the ’80s far behind, this movie is a checklist of ’80s cliche. Love interest Tawny Kitaen, check. Best friend Adrien Zmed, check. Wang Chung’s Dance Hall Days blasting on the soundtrack, check. Big hair and typical ’80s fashion styles, check. Director Neal Israel supposedly got the idea for this movie after attending a wild bachelor party himself. But the comedy here has been done in many movies before. Even the plot is cliche and formula. Hanks proposed to girlfriend Kitaen. She just happens to come from a wealthy family, and her father does not approve of her marrying someone so low class. The night that Hanks and Kitaen go off to their respective bachelor and bachelorette parties, Tawny’s father secretly plots sabotage with her old flame Robbert Prescott. Apparently dad approves of Prescott would rather see him marry his daughter than Hanks.
The sight gags and jokes in this movie fall flat. As I pointed out these jokes had already been done in many other movies, and in most cases the original variations of these gags were much funnier. Israel may have though a bachelor party was fertile material for a comedy, but ended up mining comedies from the past. Tom Hanks fans may be particularly disappointed. This was one of his early movies, long before he had matured into his easy going screen character that dominated his later films. His early work can best be described as an imitation of Steve Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guy” stage persona. I should point out that this film does have it’s fans, including Roger Ebert who liked it for it’s crude raunchiness. But what was found raunchy and shocking in the ’80s is quaint and tame by today’s standards.
Once again here is a movie with the reputation of a hot fetish scene that does not live up to the hype. I must confess that I was one of those people who had vaguely remembered seeing Bachelor Party and somehow retained memories of the fetish scene being a lot more prominent then what it really is. It is a classic, but more for being a milestone film moment which has since been far surpassed. It begins at 40 minutes into the movie. Two strippers have been sent to Tawny’s bridal shower instead of Tom’s bachelor party, a bit of sabotage from Tawny’s old ex-boyfriend. One of the strippers here wears what looks like a tight leather dress, but may have just been a leather top on a cloth skirt. The two strippers are mistakenly invited in as guests and after surveying the room begin to set up their act while the women are distracted with Tawny opening up her gifts. There is a nice quick shot here of the stripper in leather unzipping the other stripper’s top, but alas, a few seconds of the girls removing each other’s clothing is all we see. When the women turn around again both strippers are now wearing nothing but leather bras, leather panties and leather garter belts. They immediately begin their act which involves whips and a vibrator, but immediately turns into both strippers beginning to kiss each other. Once again director Israel cuts away from the strippers just as the kissing is about to begin and instead we get a half minute of reaction shots from the guests before the movie cuts abruptly back to the Hanks party. A completely waisted opportunity. There are a couple of other scenes worth mentioning here. Tawny’s best friend Phoebe ( played by Martina Finch ) wears what looks a lot like latex leggings, but is more likely some sort of satin material. This happens at 9 minutes into the movie during a scene at a clothing store where the women shoppers are dancing for no particular reason. ( ah, the ’80s ) The only other outfit worth mentioning occurs at 1 minute 34 minutes when Tom and Robert Prescott have a fight in a theater showing a 3D movie. On the screen is a female character wearing a tight orange satin jumpsuit with a typical sci-fi collar.