1999, PG-13, 102 min. Directed by Gary Sinyor. Starring Mariah Carey, Brooke Shields, Peter Ustinov, Edward Asner, James Cromwell, Hal Holbrook, Renee Zellweger, Chris O'Donnell.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., Nov. 12, 1999
Chris O'Donnell as a nuptials-phobic bachelor who breaks into a sweat at the words “I do”? Sweet, clean-cut, boy-next-door Chris O'Donnell as the perpetual single guy, an unfettered Lothario? If ever there were the marrying kind, it's O'Donnell -- he looks like he can't wait to settle down with the Missus. Miscast from the start, The Bachelor is a mirthless comedy in which men view the battle of the sexes as if it were a Freudian Henny Youngman joke: The mustang becomes the gelding once he puts on a wedding ring. (Believe it or not, the movie uses wild horses imagery ad nauseam to convey the freedom of the unmarried male: Guess what a lasso symbolizes?) The retro, sometimes sexist humor of The Bachelor isn't offensive; it's just stupid. Even in the hands of an actor better-suited than O'Donnell, it's doubtful that this movie would work, given its mediocre script. Allegedly a retelling of the 1925 Buster Keaton film Seven Chances, The Bachelor offers a simplistic story that can be summarized like a personals ad: Confirmed SWM must wed SF in 24 hours to inherit $100 million fortune. The laughs are supposed to come as O'Donnell's character zigzags through the streets of San Francisco, popping the question to every woman in his little black book, which here is a shoebox of photographs. Classy guy, eh? This endeavor is complicated by the fact that the woman he really loves has previously rejected his marriage proposal because she senses he's not quite ready for the ball and chain. (Zellweger is adrift in this thankless role of the girlfriend, which at least gives her the opportunity to put those pouty lips to good use.) Of the actresses -- a term used loosely in this particular instance -- playing the women offered O'Donnell's hand in marriage, songbird Carey is the most memorable, only because she is onscreen for a mercifully short time and gives a performance on par with those in her music videos. Her acting range appears to be about half an octave. Unless you've been cryogenically frozen for the last 60 years, you know how things work out in the last reel of The Bachelor, but there's no joy in getting there -- only the tedious sight of the ever-earnest O'Donnell in a tuxedo with a tail between his legs. You'd think that a movie featuring hundreds of women in wedding gowns running up and down the hills of Frisco, chasing a man, might be pure slapstick, but The Bachelor can't find even a chuckle in such spectacle. This is one movie best left unattached.