The Bachelor

Directed by Gary Sinyor
Starring: Chris O'Donnell, Renée Zellweger, Artie Lange, Hal Holbrook, Ed Asner, Peter Ustinov.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
November 5, 1999

In silent films, the directors had to depend on showing, rather than telling, which is rather hard for modern film directors. Of course, "talkies" have full screenplays written, and the director has to come up with a way of showing the characters talking. Remaking a silent film today entails taking a story that was told with almost no dialogue, and try to fill in words. As usual, the words are superfluous, and ultimately tiresome, and this remake of Buster Keaton's Seven Chances does not stray from the norm.

Jimmy Shannon III (Chris O'Donnell) is the sole heir to Shannon Billiards, which is run by his grandfather, Jimmy Shannon I (Peter Ustinov). After he botches an attempt to propose to his girlfriend, Anne (Renée Zellweger), his grandfather dies. A video will states that he must get married by 6:05 pm on his thirtieth birthday, which happens to be tomorrow, or he will be cut off from an estate worth $100 million, and he will lose the company. He tries proposing to Anne again, before she heads off to Athens for three weeks, but screws up again.

Now he has a little more than 24 hours to find a bride. He goes through all his old girlfriends, and even tells them about the money, but each failed proposal takes up more time. His friend and business associate, Marco (Artie Lange), tries to help him by placing an ad in the morning paper, which ends up being a front page story, and he is pursued by a sea of brides. Of course, you know that Anne couldn't have really left for Greece, or otherwise you couldn't have the unavoidable Hollywood ending.

Now it may seem like I gave a lot of the film away, but it's nothing that wasn't conveyed by the theatrical trailer. The Bachelor seemed like they made the trailer first, then tried to film filler to go between the clips. Chances are, you've already seen all the entertaining parts of the film. And you know the plot. And you know how it ends. And you'd be a fool to waste your money.

Unless you're looking for a date movie. But, I'm not talking about the kind of film that you can discuss over dinner afterwards. I mean it's a movie that has such a trite romantic theme, that you could make out through it without missing anything. If you're not on a date, then you will be forced to bear witness to the wasting of not only Ustinov and Zellweger, but also Hal Holbrook and Ed Asner.

The scene most reminiscent of Seven Chances is one you've already seen in the trailer: the avalanche of brides descending on O'Donnell, which also happened to Keaton, except that it was well directed (by Keaton, himself) and, most importantly, funny. This was the first American film for English director Gary Sinyor (Stiff Upper Lips), who really wants to make American-style comedies, but just isn't capable.

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The Bachelor (1999)

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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan