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It takes a lot of nerve to remake a classic Buster Keaton comedy from the silent era; but then again, Hollywood likes to recycle ideas (again and again). Since I am a Buster Keaton fan, Iíll be the first to say that THE BACHELOR ($15) is not in the same league with Keatonís brilliant matrimonial comedy SEVEN CHANCES. While not a monumental film achievement, THE BACHELOR does prove to be a mildly entertaining romantic comedy that reworks the material Keaton made famous by tailoring it to fit its young stars and modern setting (not to mention the addition of dialogue).

THE BACHELOR stars Chris O'Donnell Jimmie Shannon, a young guy who has trouble committing to any woman for fear of losing his freedom. Because of this, most of Jimmieís relationships have been short term- very short term. Then Jimmie meets Anne (Renťe Zellweger), a very beautiful young woman who seems utterly perfect. Anne makes no demands on Jimmie and like a guy, even forgets their anniversary their first year together. However, over the course of three years, all of Jimmieís other friends get married, which leaves Anne the lone female to catch the bridal bouquet at the last wedding they attend. Jimmie then realizes that the handwriting is on the wall and it is time for him to propose to Anne. Unfortunately, Jimmie still has a problem with losing his freedom and ends up making a complete mess out of the proposal. Of course, this infuriates Anne who always imagined that this "once-in-a-lifetime" event would be perfect.

Regrettably, just as Jimmie finds himself on the skids with Anne, his eccentric grandfather (Peter Ustinov) suddenly dies. Then at the reading of the will, Jimmie discovers that his grandfather had invested wisely, with his estate being worth over one hundred million dollars and that he is the sole beneficiary. The size of the estate certainly comes as a surprise, however his grandfatherís will carries only one provision- Jimmie must marry by 6:05pm on his thirtieth birthday or he will lose everything. Making matters worse, Jimmieís thirtieth birthday just happens to be one day away. While Anne would be the logical choice for Jimmie to marry, she unexpectedly leaves town, which leaves him in a lurch. To hold on to his inheritance, and save the jobs of everyone that works for grandfatherís company, Jimmie must find someone else to marry. Going through his list of ex-girlfriends, Jimmie finds that he canít escape his past misdeeds, with every one of the former women in his life rejecting him.

Eventually word of Jimmieís plight gets media attention, landing on the front page of the newspaper. Those of you who are familiar with Buster Keatonís SEVEN CHANCES know what happens next, with Jimmie being chased all over town by an army of women in wedding dresses. Sure, the image of Jimmie being pursued by a sea of desperate women is amusing, but without Buster Keatonís unflappable stone-faced demeanor, the situation never becomes fall on the floor hilarious. The cast of THE BACHELOR also features Hal Holbrook, James Cromwell, Artie Lange, Edward Asner, Marley Shelton, Sarah Silverman, Stacy Edwards, Rebecca Cross, Jennifer Esposito, Katharine Towne and Mariah Carey. By the way, I should note that the filmís best and funniest performance comes from Brooke Shields, who playís Jimmieís mercenary former girlfriend Buckley. Shields has a flair for comedy, itís too bad she spends her career in search of the proper vehicle for her talents. If Shields had been given this kind of wicked material to do on her sitcom, I might have actually tuned in.

New Line Home Video delivers THE BACHELOR on a single sided, dual layer DVD that offers viewers a choice of full frame or anamorphic wide screen presentations. As you might have guessed, New Lineís 16:9 enhanced version of THE BACHELOR is absolutely spectacular looking. I beginning to think that just stamping the name New Line Home Video on a DVD guarantees that the disc is drop dead gorgeous (no pun intended). THE BACHELOR is framed at 1.85:1 and the image delivers stunning clarity with everything appearing razor sharp and highly detailed. Colors are incredibly vibrant, without a hint of chroma noise or bleeding, plus the flesh tones are picture perfect. Blacks are right on the money and the level of shadow detail is exemplary. Additionally, contrast in incredibly smooth. You would be hard pressed to find any noticeable evidence of digital compression artifacts on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is somewhat beyond a typical comedy mix, offering some well placed sound effects. The forward soundstage gets most of the play, but occasionally the surround channels will sneak up on you and deliver a solid sonic surprise. Channel separation is good all around and the dialogue is always clean and intelligible. Additionally, the track has a solid bottom end, although it isnít used all that often. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles. The Interactive menus are rather basic, providing access to the requisite scene selection and set up features. A theatrical trailer, plus cast biographies/filmographies can also be accessed through the menu system. THE BACHELOR is also DVD-ROM enabled, allowing one to read the filmís screenplay.


The Bachelor (1999)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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