Film Scouts Reviews

"The Bachelor"

by Richard Schwartz

Chris O'Donnell, Renee Zellwegger, some romantic tale about a guy having to find a bride within 24 hours to claim a huge inheritance &emdash; it all reeks of "chick flick," right?

Well, "The Bachelor" will definitely appeal to the female audience, on O'Donnell's presence alone. But men will find something here, too, in the recognition factor. The film's acknowledgement of man's inherent ability to commit, though cartoonish on the surface, might actually resonate with many bachelors in the audience. After all, if you've had a string of girlfriends like Mariah Carey, Brooke Shields and Jennifer Esposito, would you be looking to settle down?

But, then again, how could one consider waking up next to Renee Zellwegger "settling?"

If "The Bachelor" doesn't explore, then it at least skims the surface of such themes as commitment and partnership. The fact that it does so in the context of a totally contrived story, a hazily familiar set-up heavily influenced by the old Buster Keaton silent movie "Seven Chances," is immaterial. All that's required is a brief suspension of disbelief and a submission to a breezy storytelling style that works like a throwback to golden age romantic comedies.

Jimmy Shannon (O'Donnell) clings dearly to his bachelor freedom as his buddies fall by the wayside, but he finally succumbs to marital pressure from his three-year girlfriend Anne (Zellwegger) and offers a lame, half-hearted proposal, capped by his concession "You win." Sensing his insincerity, Anne summarily dumps Jimmy. Soon thereafter, Jimmy's grandfather (Peter Ustinov) passes away and leaves his only grandson $100 million &emdash; on the condition that Jimmie carry on the family line and tie the knot by his thirtieth birthday, incidentally a mere twenty-four hours away. Jimmy's subsequent quest for a bride finds him struggling to win back Anne and rifling through past rolodexes of girlfriends (a la Albert Brooks in "Modern Romance") to find someone who will say "I do." In the course of it all, of course, Jimmy undergoes his own personal metamorphosis (a transformation that seems a bit too easy for the reluctant bridegroom-to-be) as he finally realizes the merits of matrimony.

Directed by Gary Sinyor, "The Bachelor" is highlighted by a seasoned supporting cast and a couple memorable scenes. O'Donnell and Zellwegger are adept in their roles, but it is veterans such as Ustinov, James Cromwell and Hal Holbrook that turn in the funniest performances in the film. A cameo parade featuring the aforementioned Shields, Carey and others adds to the mix. And two scenes continue to stand out &emdash; the ever-painful initial proposal scene and a near-epic climax featuring a bridal chase through the streets of San Francisco.

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