Bachelor Party (1984) – A Review
“Hey it’s Cole!
Did any of you guys order an asshole from room service?”
It’s funny how the careers of actors can evolve. Today’s younger moviegoers may view Tom Hanks as a respected two-time Oscar winner who headlines in major motion pictures, works with A-list actors and directors, is the voice of a lovable toy cowboy and has the reputation of being a nice guy – not to mention being commonly known as the guy who played Forrest Gump.
However, there’s a generation of moviegoers who have followed Hanks from his humble beginnings of being a TV sitcom star on Bosom Buddies to headlining in a string of comedies until his breakout performance in 1988’s Big, which would lead him to the big time.
Even today with all the awards and exposure Hanks gets, not to mention all his hefty endeavors of directing and producing historic cable productions and just recently making his Broadway debut, it’s not enough to cloud my vision of him being the guy who starred as The Man With One Red Shoe.
I have a similar thing with George Clooney, who despite doing popular and critically acclaimed films and getting his fair share of awards – I will always think of him as the dude from The Facts of Life. Sorry, I just can’t help it.
Hanks had mainly done TV work when his motion picture career started rolling in 1984 with two very different productions: first-time director Ron Howard’s mermaid romantic/comedy Splash and then only a couple months later starring in the raucous, lowbrow, outrageous comedy Bachelor Party.
Let me preference this by saying I was not planning on including Bachelor Party in my 80’s teen/sex comedy series of reviews, but after inadvertently catching it on the tube recently I began to contemplate its inclusion. I probably wouldn’t categorize this as an 80’s teen/sex comedy – I’d describe it more as simply a ‘raunchy comedy’.
But Bachelor Party did become a staple on cable during the 80’s, it does possess many of the elements of the teen/sex/comedy genre – most notably featuring boobs – and it has since become an extremely popular film from the decade.
It’s as basic a concept as a film can get. The title is the perfect description of what kind of movie you should expect to see. Actually it would be a shame for a film to waste having such an ideal title. It would be like having the movie Halloween be about two teens falling in love on a bright and fun holiday. It just doesn’t seem right.
So Bachelor Party makes good on its title and is essentially about a crazy bachelor party with the grooms wacky friends partying through the night. The chaotic night escalates into complete mayhem as more boobs, drugs, guests, animals and police show up to make it one memorable party bidding farewell to our hero’s single life.
Ok, so is there more to the story than just that? Cinema sophisticates are in luck because Bachelor Party does squeeze in a timeless love story between our bride and groom as well!
Debbie Thompson (Tawny Kitaen) the sexy bride-to-be comes from a higher class of family than Hanks’ Rick Gassko.
Not surprisingly Debbie’s parents find Rick to be “an immature asshole” and aren’t too thrilled with having him as their son-in-law. Her no-nonsense father recruits Debbie’s former flame Cole to sabotage their relationship. Debbie already has brewing doubts about Rick and this wild bachelor party is the perfect way to show what kind of unfaithful, degenerate Rick is and end this love story once and for all.
Will this night of debauchery put an end to their love story?
Bachelor Party is by no means a great, high-art kind of movie. It’s a presentation of some very lowbrow, silly, tasteless humor. It’s in the same tradition as Animal House, where it attempts to up the craziness quotient, amp up the sexual humor, ratchet up the outrageous sight gags and have our ragtag group of heroes piss off as many tight collared stiffs as possible. There’s nothing radical about any of this.
So Bachelor Party is not a revolutionary comedy, but it is pretty friggin funny!
Let’s get Hanks participation out of the way. Hanks plays that standard, carefree, always ready with the perfect joke, goofy guy character who somehow lands one of the hottest chicks around. How is this possible? In raunchy 80s comedies it is a rule. So, one of the sexist woman of the decade is naturally smitten with a guy who wears a welders mask to cook dinner.
Anyway, Hanks had that nice guy charm even back then, so it’s really easy for me to like him here. There’s something very endearing and charismatic about the guy. Even when I consider that Debbie’s father has some valid reasons to have this cold attitude towards him and it’s not unreasonable that he doesn’t like the guy. Does he have to hit the tennis ball over the fence everytime when he’s playing with the poor man?
Let’s face it Rick comes off as pretty obnoxious. Everything Mr. Thompson criticizes Rick about is true. I can understand him not being too enthusiastic about this guy marrying his daughter. But since I’m not the one having to deal with Rick and he’s not throwing his arrogant wisecracks towards me, I can enjoy him mocking Debbie’s Dad and Cole.
And besides in the 80’s you were allowed to laugh at everything. Nothing was sacred. We’re meant to get a kick out of Rick asking an old nun out on a date. There was no such thing as politically incorrect humor – it was just….humor. So there’s no problem with our hero in the story being an arrogant guy who doesn’t seem to have much more on his mind than just having a good time and making fun of everyone.
Hanks’ friends are one of those groups of friends in movies where you might wonder how they all ended up as pals. We have Hanks as the Catholic school bus driver. Adrian Zmed as O’Neil the baby photography and Rick’s right hand man.
Zmed was on a roll in the early 80’s and was a pretty prolific talent. He was doing it all – movies, tv, music. In fact Bachelor Party featured him singing in the movie. I would say he was the bigger star between him and Hanks at this point. He might be viewed as 80s cheese now, but at the time he was hot. So with his participation, along with the movie’s carefree attitude, the music, the clothes, the hair, there’s no mistaking Bachelor Party as being a movie from the 1980s.
The rest of the group consist of Rick’s brother Dr. Stan, Rudy the mechanic, Gary the concert ticket peddler, Brad the suicidal druggie, and Michael Dudikoff as the most athletic of the bunch and the biggest ‘oh really he’s in this’ piece of casting besides Hanks.
The guys are all pretty funny and create a fun group. They each have their own little quirks and each result in comedic payoffs. Except Dudikoff. He just seems like he’s a surfer-type guy who hangs around in the background. It’s almost like they threw him in to fill out the the group of friends a bit more. Maybe he was just waiting things out until his Cannon action career.
My personal favorite out of this pack is the diminutive, smooth talking Gary played by Gary Grossman. He looks to be the opposite of a guy in the hip music concert biz. He’s walking around in his wild clothes, easily making deals with pimps. He provides one of my all time favorite lines in the film. After he’s done negotiating with a pimp for some hookers he casually says to the ladies, “maybe after the orgy tonight we can get together have a cup of coffee or something?”. The way he delivers that line is hysterical.
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast range from serviceable to pretty good. Robert Prescott is the quintessential 80’s blond bad guy as Cole, which he would play again the following year in Real Genius.
George Grizzard does amusing exhausted annoyance very well as Mr. Thompson. I always loved his delayed reaction when he opens the door to Rick’s hotel room. Hanks’ Bosom Buddies co-star Wendie Jo Sperber gets some laughs as the nightmare wife of Dr. Stan. She was a real talented character actor and always made an impression whenever I saw her in a movie. I always have to remind myself that she passed away. She had a real dynamic presence onscreen.
She has a smaller, almost background role, but I alwasy liked Barbara Stuart as Mrs. Thompson as well. It’s not a showy role, but she has an amusing easily flustered air about her. This especially pays off in her encounter with Nick the Dick. Her shellshocked reaction afterwards as she replays the incident in her mind I always thought was pretty funny.
Tawny Kitan was very much the embodiment of ‘the’ hot woman of the 1980s. She had the hair, the body, the whole thing going on. She was even doing the most famous thing a 1980s chick could do by sexily rolling around on car hoods in music videos. Yeah, she seems like the type of chick that would fall for a wacky guy who drives a school bus!
Kitaen didn’t have as much of a prolific career as I would have thought considering how famous she seemed to be at the time. Other than Bachelor Party and showing up in Whitesnake videos I don’t remember seeing her much until that forgettable The New WKRP in Cincinnati show in the early 90’s. Since then I haven’t heard from her other than her sporadic legal problems.
I find the film to be consistently funny. Of course it depends on your taste. While one might find it hysterical two hookers mistakenly showing up to Debbie’s bridal shower, others may not find it as amusing.
I do enjoy watching the silly behavior of the guys carrying on over the women. They’re hooting and hollering. Except for Rick, they’rel all jazzed that they scored hookers for the this party and there’s no hesitation they’re going to spend some time with them. The morality compass is twisted beyond belief with all these guys.
A lot of the gags are loftier than just simple gross out humor. They’re actually nicely constructed, executed and have decent payoffs. The faces of the cast being superimposed on a busty nymphet. Gary making an unexpected discovery about a prostitute. And of course an appearance by a mule. It sounds really strange that I’m trying to analyze why the scene with the mule and the belly dancer in Bachelor Party is funny.
Actually I always found some gags in Bachelor Party very similar to some in previous comedies. Hanks incorporating an egg beater as some bizarre sex device like Bill Murray utilized an ice cream scoop in Stripes. Most notably the dead horse gag in Animal House is very reminiscent of the hotel managers discovery.
That doesn’t make these jokes any less funny and memorable though. Kevin Smith even tried to emulate the entire mule gag in Clerks 2! That either says there’s something special about Bachelor Party’s mule scene or that Smith just doesn’t have any ideas of his own. Hmmm….could be both.
I did think it was kind of odd when I recently caught some of 2010s The A-Team and saw a clear similarity between a scene with Murdock watching a 3-D movie and the final 3-D gag in Bachelor Party. Could Bachelor Party really be influencing films today?
For what it is Bachelor Party is a pretty fun film. It’s not a film I go out of my way to watch, but whenever I happen to see it on TV I always end up watching it until the end.
As with a lot of the best 80s movies there are plenty of quote-worthy lines that run throughout it.
I’m not sure why, but somehow it seems in comedies from the 1980s the lines and dialogue had more of a spark to them and more of them became repeat worthy and memorable. I think the percentage of enduring quotes in comedies has really declined since then. That could make an interesting useless study for someone to calculate and compare.
These type of raunchy comedies have seen somewhat of a revival recently. After the 80s ended these kind of brash, unrefined comedies nearly vanished and now there’s some nostalgic specialness to them today. That wasn’t the case at the time.
They were just silly, vulgar movies that didn’t seem to get much respect – not that they were looking for that. It seemed the only goal they had in mind was to make the audience laugh. That attitude has now earned these films a level of respect by their fans.
The Hangover is probably the most popular film in recent years that is a clear descendant of Bachelor Party. Personally I don’t think it’s anywhere near as funny as its ancestor in debauchery. Honestly, I thought The Hangover was one of the most overrated comedies I had ever seen, but that’s another story.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to make such a real great raunchy comedy today at the same level as the ones from the 1980s are measured by fans. Not to get all “those were the good old days”-type of rambling, but it’s kind of true in this regard.
Those films didn’t pull any punches and weren’t worried about offending. The movie wouldn’t bat an eye in portraying hookers who’s only role was to provide nudity and sex – and that’s it! They didn’t worry about making them actual characters and everyone was fine with that. They were basking in stereotypes of women, reveling in the fact that drinking was fun and drugs were even better!
Not to mention that the outrageous meter was much lower to shock and make you laugh back then. Today it’s kind of hard to push things much higher. We literally are inundated with juvenile behavior from star wannabes punishing themselves and each other for an audience.
Porn is so accessible that it has practically took the fun and allure out of getting to see naked boobs in movies anymore. You could easily watch a Girls Gone Wild video that’s packed beginning to end with topless girls. In the 80s the best chance you had to see boobs was in one of these movies. It didn’t even have to be a big star flashing us, just any wannabe actress would do.
Besides it’s ‘wrong’ to objectify women’ in that way. There’s always some group that will take issue with something in a movie and find something offensive, then the movie studio will shrink, put its tail between its legs and apologize. If we’re lucky we’ll get an ‘unrated’ DVD release later on – the version they were too scared to give to movie theaters.
I doubt the National Hooker Alliance was out in front of theaters protesting Bachelor Party because the film portrayed them in a negative light. PETA would be all over the defense of the mule and how he’s mistreated in the movie.
Damn, I can just envision some kind of religious league taking issue with them putting an old nuns head on a stacked topless woman!
It’s like people have gotten more sensitive, they don’t want to offend anyone and everyone has lost the ability to laugh or something. In 1984 outrageous and tasteless gags were just another day at the movies. If you didn’t find any of it funny then sorry, the movie was clearly not for you. Today, the tabloid reports of stars are more out of control than anything we get to see at the movies!
Actually The Hangover might be the perfect update to Bachelor Party in the sense of demonstrating how times have changed since 1984. While Rick and the gang are celebrating the night away having the grandest time on an epic scale and never having to worry about facing any kind of repercussions from the alcohol, drugs and sex that they’re engaging in – todays characters aren’t so lucky. They literally are forced to face the consequences of their big night. They don’t even get to remember the fun they had!
Bachelor Party has set a bunch of exaggerated expectations for real life bachelor parties to follow, so in that sense it will always be the ultimate movie about bachelor parties. It did a get a sequel in 2008. It didn’t have any connection to the original. I never got to see it, but from what I’ve heard it wasn’t very good.
It’s too bad it wasn’t a true sequel with all the original actors returning for a 21st century party. They’re revisiting all these other movies from the 80s, why not Bachelor Party too!
Can’t you picture it – Hanks and Kitaen returning as Mr. and Mrs. Gasko, readying to go out for a low-key, quiet evening to celebrate their 30th anniversary of marriage. Then Zmed shows up to escort them to a surprise gathering where all their middle-aged friends are blasting their 80’s tunes, a few drinks are served and pretty soon all hell breaks loose!
Somehow I picture the wildness would peak with a karaoke scene.
That’s another thing I’ve always liked about Hanks. He doesn’t dismiss his early silly films now that he’s this big respected actor. He’ll freely talk about Turner and Hooch or The Burbs. Heck I thought it was really cool that he gave his Bosom Buddies co-star Peter Scolari a part in That Thing You Do. He’s able to laugh at his old films and doesn’t try to distance himself from them.
Not that a true Hanks starring Bachelor Party sequel will ever happen, but at least he’s not ashamed of his humble acting roots. We all know where he came from. And a lot fans love that goofy, funny Hanks a lot more than the serious Oscar-winning one.