Tom Hanks’ body of work in cinema is nothing but top-shelf. From great drama such as “Apollo 13” or “Saving Private Ryan” to comedy such as “Big” or to even a musically-themed drama “That Thing You Do!” (click here for my review), Hanks represents nothing but class and professionalism. So, would it surprise you to remember that he headlined a sexed-up, gross-out comedy flick called “Bachelor Party” from 1984? Well, he did and it is an absolutely fall-down funny film directed by the man who wrote the “Police Academy” screenplay from that hit film of the same year. “Bachelor Party” covers it all: guys having fun; girls having fun; a mule having fun … what? Yes, this one hits all the bottom-level floors before reaching the basement. Sit back and enjoy this one, but watch out – it truly deserves its “R” rating and is not just a prudish “R” you find on some 1980s films.
(1984; 105 minutes; rated R; directed by Neal Israel and starring Tom Hanks, Tawny Kitaen and Adrian Zmed)
A FUNNY, RAUNCHY PARTY FILM WITH … TOM HANKS!
(NOTE: I expanded this review with more trivia and additional opinion – as well as repairing some grammar – on March 5, 2016.)
The R-rated comedy picked up major steam with “National Lampoon’s Animal House” in 1978 but the genre really hit its stride in the early 1980s. From “The Hollywood Knights” (1980 – click here for my review) to “Porky’s” (1982 – click here for my review from yesterday) to “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (1983), it didn’t get any better than these. While the genre would later flourish with the “American Pie” and “Harold & Kumar” franchises (click here for my review of “H&K Escape from Guantanamo Bay”), its early 1980s roots are impeccable. So, today I’m reviewing one of the best examples of the genre with Tom Hanks’ “Bachelor Party” from 1984.
Yes, I wrote Tom Hanks. No, not a character, but the actor. You know him. Tom Hanks. He would go on to win two Oscars and be nominated for three others. He represents nothing but class in Hollywood, but you need to also remember that he did an episode of “The Love Boat” – Season 4/Episode 1 – click here for my ‘Love Boat’ overview) as well as “Bachelor Party.” Thanks, Tom. Both are appreciated (especially the “Love Boat” episode).
Back onto today’s film. It’s simple: Some people just don’t want to admit that “Bachelor Party,” which saw its 30th anniversary in June 2014, is hilarious and you would have absolutely no sense of humor if you don’t laugh throughout it. I wouldn’t put it at the top of my resume if I was Hanks, but I wouldn’t ignore it either. It’s fun, funny and creative as it tries hard to be successful in making the audience laugh.
Director Neal Israel also wrote the iconic “Police Academy” that came out the same year as well as following up “Bachelor Party” with “Moving Violations,” but that one is quite the stinker (click here for my review). Israel also directed “Surf Ninjas” and most of his career has been on the small screen.
In “Bachelor Party,” Hanks plays “Rick Gassko,” who drives a school bus for a Catholic school. He is completely irresponsible and set on marrying his girlfriend (“Debbie Thompson” played by Tawny Kitaen). However, her family hates him and loves the yuppie idiot she broke up with to date Hanks. So, Tom takes special glee in jerking his future father-in-law’s chain to his (and our) amusement. At the same time, Hanks’ buddies don’t take much to get wound up in anticipation of the BACHELOR PARTY!
Of course Kitaen is worried that Hanks will be tempted into philandering at the party at the same time his friends are doing their best to put the temptation there (they even get Hanks’ old girlfriend to attend and try to seduce him). In a parallel story, Kitaen’s former boyfriend, as a way to drive a wedge between the couple, sends over a couple of hookers to her bridal shower in a scene that proves it can get funnier even when you thought it could not.
Of course the boys’ bachelor party at an upscale hotel is the showcase of the movie. After starting off slow, It lets it all hang out: a raucous crowd with plenty of nudity; drinking and drugs; a donkey act (no, not family-style entertainment and the poor beast winds hooves-up in a hotel elevator – but only pretend; no animals were injured in the making of the film … just embarrassed); and ultimately the soon-to-be father-in-law finds himself tied up to bed with a bunch of hookers in attendance while photos are taken.
Here’s a quick rundown on some of the main players:
- Hanks is at his outgoing, energetic best here. He’s almost naïve if he wasn’t so oversexed and he does a great job showing is off-handed irresponsibility – especially with his stuck-up father-in-law to be. Outside of his best-known works, Hanks has been in “Cast Away” and “Charlie Wilson’s War” (click here for my review) while voicing in the “Toy Story” franchise and recently in “Saving Mr. Banks.”
- Kitaen doesn’t do much in the acting arena, as her beauty is what carries her in this role. She doesn’t manage much in the way of a spectrum of emotion and her effort is right off the stage of a college production. Kitaen has also been in “The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak” and “Happy Hour.” I’ll tell you more about her personal life later in this review.
- Adrian Zmed plays “Jay O’Neill” and is the ringleader of the friends organizing the party. Zmed is much better here than he was in “Grease 2.” He’s also been on a number of TV shows, including “T.J. Hooker” with William Shatner.
- Robert Prescott plays “Cole Whittaker” and he’s the ex-boyfriend who winds up being hung naked outside a hotel before falling butt-first through an open moon-roof on a car – thereby putting the moon in moon-roof. Prescott is wonderfully earnest as the clueless guy chasing a girl who doesn’t want him. He was also great as an obnoxious grad student in “Real Genius” with Val Kilmer (click here for my review).
- William Tepper plays “Dr. Stan Gassko” and is Hanks’ brother. He does a great job being desperate for a party where he can cheat on his wife and winds up very satisfied. Tepper was also in “Miss Right” in a brief career of eight acting credits.
- Gary Grossman plays the less-than-creatively named “Gary” here and he’s the over-energized friend who eagerly volunteers to round up the hookers. He’s fun to watch, but could have been much more grating if his character had more time on screen. Grossman was also in “Brain Donors.”
- Emmy winning George Grizzard plays strung-too-tight father “Ed Thompson.” He suffers through a very funny tennis match where Hanks keeps hitting home runs and winds up in bed being photographed with hookers. Grizzard was also in “Flags of our Fathers” and “Comes a Horseman.”
- Deborah Harmon plays Kitaen’s cousin “Ilene” whose smoldering sexuality comes to the surface as she “saves” the women by throwing herself at a group of Japanese businessmen at the hotel (don’t bother with the plot; it will come together quickly if you watch it). Harmon is wonderfully caustic and sarcastic at just the right time and was even better in “Used Cars” with Kurt Russell (click here for my review).
Don’t worry, I haven’t gone into such detail that you have to pass this one up to know all the great scenes. I’ve had to pass over so much because I just don’t have enough time to outline it all.
Kitaen has one of the most colorful personal backgrounds of any actor in the film. Hanks would go on to serious drama as well as becoming a director and producer. On the other hand, from IMDb.com and other sources: Kitaen, who would gain fame from “Whitesnake” music videos, would date O.J. Simpson; be accused of spousal abuse of her professional athlete husband (baseball pitcher Chuck Finley); and deal with drug issues and wind up on a celebrity rehab show. Whew! And you thought the film had its rough moments!
“Bachelor Party” was the 19th ranked film at the box office in 1984 with $38.4 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. It was a wonderful year for the R-rated comedy with a pair of classics coming in ahead of “Bachelor Party:” “Police Academy” (6th with $81.1 million) and “Revenge of the Nerds” (16th with $40.8 million – click here for my review). The No. 1 film of the year was “Beverly Hills Cop” with $234.7 million. Other films I’ve reviewed include:
- “Top Secret!” – click here for my review
- “Up the Creek” – click here for my review
- “The Flamingo Kid” – click here for my review
- The original “Red Dawn” – click here for my review
- “Night of the Comet” (OK sci-fi thriller) – click here for my review
- “Revenge of the Nerds” (hysterical comedy) — click here for my review
- “Splash” (wonderful comedy) – click here for my review
Assorted cast and film notes (via IMDb.com):
- Kelly McGillis was the original female lead, but was dismissed (reportedly because she wasn’t sexy enough). Ouch, but then again, it certainly didn’t hurt her career.
- The biggest “thank you” for not casting an actor goes to whoever didn’t let Paul Reiser do the Hanks part. The talentless Reiser is only good playing smarmy little slugs and typically disappoints in any role he’s played. Thank goodness he didn’t get the chance to ruin this one.
- The actor with both the most exotic name as well as oddly named character is Ji-Tu Cumbuka, who plays “Alley Pimp.”
- Former Playboy Playmate Roseanne Katon plays “Bridal Shower Hooker.” Despite other credits such as “She Devils in Chains” and “Motel Hell,” she appears to have a much more conventional home life as she will have been married 31 years this month.
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