There very well could be another movie that’s a better time capsule of the coked out party scene of the early ’80s than Bachelor Party… but I certainly haven’t seen it.
Every indulgence is taken as default behavior: Infidelity, lines of coke on every table, pills handed out like candy, strippers and sex workers on every block, nonstop sexing, etc. etc. etc. There’s even a “donkey show” arranged. It’s truly breathtaking how trashy it all seems, except it doesn’t carry itself as trashy whatsoever: Just bros having a good time. (Only the snooty, “oh-my-word” father-in-law seems to think any of this behavior is dubious.)
It should be no surprise that Tom Hanks is far and away the most interesting thing about the movie. In fact, he’s pretty much the only interesting thing about the movie (sociological time capsule notwithstanding). When Hanks is on screen, the movie works; he makes an unlikable role hugely charming and sympathetic. True star stuff. When he’s off-screen, the jokes have maybe a 20% hit rate, not aided by a forgettable supporting cast. Pretty much every joke immediately exited my short-term memory with frictionless ease, minus one hilarious bit about a dead animal in an elevator near the end.
As an ’80s sex comedy, there is of course a handful of problematic content, though less than I feared. The predatory sexual behavior is minimized: all canoodling and debauchery is consensual (minus the father-in-law being subject to some unwanted S&M). There is one extremely lazy man-in-a-dress bit and some casual Asian stereotyping.
But you’re not here for good taste; you’re here for a big dumb raunchy party — and, indeed, the titular party is quite epic. With Hanks starring, it inches into “watchable” territory, but only barely.
- Review Project: Tom Hanks Retrospective
Not Very Good (3/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.