The Bachelor

"Will you marry this man for 100 million dollars?"

A price tag is put on marriage in The Bachelor, the unbearable new romantic comedy from one of Hollywood’s most inept performers. Folks, compared to this all of this year’s maligned romantic comedies (anything with Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant, etc.) belong on the Oscar ballots. It doesn’t get much worse than this. Formula? Nah. This one is an insult to the formula.

The abominable Chris O’Donnell plays Jimmy Shannon, a billiards company owner who is going steady with the spunky Anne (Renee Zellweger). He takes her to the famous Starlight Room to pop the question but completely botches it, sending Anne storming home in rage. So bad is his proposal (which basically consists of “You win.”) that it becomes an instant urban legend: the story of the man who laid his hands on the Ark and tainted the sanctity of the Starlight Room.

The next day he gets the shock of his life: his nasty father died and he is in the will. The deceased’s estate is worth more than 100 million dollars and Jimmy gets it all. The catch? He has to marry by 6:05 on his thirtieth birthday, have the union last 10 years without spending more than one night apart from his wife a month and produce “genetically verifiable offspring” by his fifth year of marriage. This is a problem. Jimmy’s thirtieth birthday is tomorrow, which sends him on a wild goose chase through San Francisco looking for a bride so he can have the money and save his billiards company, which is threatened with takeover and closure.

The whole movie builds towards that scene shown in the trailers, the one with the guy running down a street with about 2000 women in wedding dresses chasing wildly after him. I’ll leave it to you to guess how this actually comes about, but I’ll say that a) it’s one of the lamest, most garishly implausible scenes in recent memory and b) it’s the highlight of the movie. Do with that information what you will.

O’Donnell’s Jimmy has no personality whatsoever. It’s not hard to understand why he has so much trouble finding a bride; it is difficult to grasp at first just why Anne is even mildly attracted to him. It becomes clearer later. You see, Anne isn’t exactly a find herself. She’s more like the stereotypical woman who is not happy with anything and annoyed by everything. She turns down one of Jimmy’s proposals because of a look in his eyes!

It doesn’t help that we know how the movie is going to end before it even begins. There is never a doubt that Anne and Jimmy are going to end up together at the end of the movie and thus no godly reason to sit through anything that happens in between. This is such painfully obvious drivel that instead of my usual indifference to stuff like this I developed a genuine resentment towards this movie and everyone involved. Who did they think they were making this for? Hermits visiting a movie theater for the first time?

After the obligatory happy ending, I was thoroughly depressed. I kept trying to tell myself that The Bachelor does not represent the state of cinema today. At least I hope it doesn’t. The film uses mustangs to represent the freedom of Bachelordom and a lasso to stand for the prison that is marriage. Can an idea be any more simplistic? Can a movie be any more banal? Jimmy and Anne deserve each other: he’s a whining asshole and she is a Grade A bitch. But nobody deserves to have to sit through this.

-- Eugene Novikov

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Screening Log

Snitch

Ric Roman Waugh, 2013

Score: C

Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh, 2013

Score: C+

10 Years

Jamie Linden, 2012

Score: B-

The Place Beyond the Pines

Derek Cianfrance, 2013

Score: B+

Warm Bodies

Jonathan Levine, 2013

Score: C

Beautiful Creatures

Richard LaGravanese, 2013

Score: B-

The Window

Ted Tetzlaff, 1949

Score: B+

The Chase

Arthur Ripley, 1946

Score: B

Street of Chance

Jack Hively, 1942

Score: C

The Taste of Money

Im Sang-Soo, 2013

Score: C+

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