Bad Movies We Love, Pre-Wedding Hijinks Edition: Bachelor Party (1984)
America loves a good ol’ fashioned bachelor party. It's a time honored tradition that’s been committed to film again and again, including in this week’s gender-reversal romp, Bachelorette, where the ladies get to behave badly. In honor of that film Movieline takes a look at the holy grail of bachelor party movies, and a bad movie we love: Bachelor Party, starring future Oscar-winner Tom Hanks.
Bachelor Party imagines a world where Tom Hanks and Tawny Kitaen are engaged, just a couple of crazy kids living on a dream. If you’ve only ever known Kitaen from her car acrobatics in the "Here I Go Again" video now’s your chance to experience her acting skills as Debbie, a fun-loving gal who’s crazy in love with Hanks’ Ricky Gassko, despite her snobby parents’ disapproval.
But before we get to know them, we’ve got to meet Rick and pals, our protagonists on this crazy journey through drugs, hookers and donkeys. Rick is a school bus driver by day who moonlights as some sort of avant-garde sculptor by night. '80s filmmakers never met a welding helmet they didn’t like. He rounds up his motley crew of buds from their random jobs — baby photographer, mechanic, ticket scalper, and waiter — in order to break the news that he’s going pro; that’s right, he's getting married. Next week! Of course the guys loudly protest until they realize that they can throw the biggest, baddest bachelor party in history. “WOMEN!!” bellows Rudy, for the first of about a thousand times in the flick.
The promise of hookers is what snares the guys, and alarms the ladies. The night gets off to a zany start when Rick’s love rival, Cole (you know he’s a bad guy because he has the quintessential '80s evil preppy haircut), intercepts their hookers and sends them to Debbie’s wedding shower instead! Zoinks! After enjoying a lesbian sex show, the ladies decide to go out and enjoy a night at the Chippendales, where a bunch of hunks in pastel bikinis do the grapevine and Debbie’s mom gets a foot-long surprise from a young gentleman named Nick the Dick, orchestrated by prankster Rick, who’s been tipped off by his buddy the bartender.
For some reason, the ladies decide to get revenge on the guys by putting on their “Best Little Whorehouse In Texas” finest (bloomers are involved) and heading to the hotel. Bachelor Party is one of those movies where coincidence drives the entire engine of the plot. In one room we’ve got the bachelor party, which looks like a middle school pajama party only with more boobs; throughout the hotel, we’ve got our bride and her entourage as fake hookers waylaid by some Japanese businessmen, Cole in army fatigues with a crossbow, Debbie’s dad speaking at the beer convention downstairs, and a flamboyant lady about to, ahem, perform with an unsuspecting donkey. All the while, Tom Hanks is showing off his best dance moves, pulling pranks and officiating slumber party games.
If anything, the movie is a great reminder of just how hot Tom Hanks was circa 1984. He’s adorable as the slacker with the heart of gold. And whatever happened to Adrian Zmed as his buddy O’Neill and the brains behind the operation? Very attractive, especially outfitted in the de rigeur bachelor party uniform: blazer, no shirt, necktie around head. And despite his meatheadishness and screaming physical comedy (the man literally buries his face into a giant bowl of popcorn during a fit of glee), I wouldn’t kick Barry Diamond out of bed for eating crackers.
Bachelor Party is basically the blueprint for every wild party night movie. You may see shades of Can’t Hardly Wait, of Superbad or any movie where the wildest party ever is thrown, hijinks ensue, the cops show up and everyone runs, etc. But what qualifies Bachelor Party as a Bad Movie We Love is the high dose of WTF that it brings to the table. Oh, the 80s! It also manages to be incredibly raunchy without going for the gross-out factor, save for a few hairy butts and one proctology joke involving super-supporting character Dr. Tina Gassko, Rick’s sister-in-law. You will have to just accept that this was made in a pre-PC world and try to laugh at the sexism and homophobia and mild racism throughout.
After the inevitable run from the cops montage, Cole throws Debbie over his shoulder and kidnaps her to a multiplex, naturally, where he and Rick have a beatdown in front of the screen playing a 3-D sci-fi movie, where the audience applauds realistic effects, like getting punched in the face. Smash cut to: Our happy wedding! Where we find out that Rick’s middle name is Ernesto (?!?) and he threatens to do something strange to Debbie with an egg beater now that they’re married. Ahhh, young love. They ride off into the sunset in the school bus driven by suicidal druggie friend Bradford, adorned with a sign “Just Having Sex.” So romantic.
So if the coke-fueled lady antics of Bachelorette seem edgy to you, remember that everyone’s pal Tom Hanks did it first — with a donkey — just 28 years ago.
Katie Walsh is a writer in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @katiewalshstx.
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