“I don’t usually like my filth this clean’ murmurs Tom Hanks in this disreputable comedy from back in the medieval era of 1984, when things that were not acceptable now were just…accepted. Hanks has gone on to have an unprecedented run of success as a beloved actor, and would probably rather forget his role in Neal Israel’s raunchy comedy. I saw this as a school-boy, sacking off school on a weekday afternoon, and wasn’t impressed with the standard of discourse presented in Bachelor Party then, and finding it opening up like a vent from hell, I can’t say it’s improved with age.
Slick Rick (Hanks) is getting married to Debbie (played by the late, pioneering bonnet-writher Tawny Kitaen) and both parties are planning parties to celebrate their upcoming nuptials; one of the rare flashes to wit is to point out that both Rick’s hotel room and Debbie’s shower have similar decorations, although that observation might be more in line with the film’s pre-occupation with breasts. Back in 1984, possession of a pair of breasts was considered a revolutionary act, and displaying them for the appreciation of passing men was an act of civic responsibility. Thus Bachelor Party opens with Rick cheerfully ogling a woman’s breasts in a photo-parlour run by his pal (played by TJ Hooker’s sidekick Adrian Zmed). Now that the audience are reassured that the central characters are happy to be seen as hopeless, misogynist voyeurs, the narrative can proceed.
Bachelor Party has some odd credentials besides Hanks; REM feature on the soundtrack alongside 80’s standbys like Oingo Boingo and yes, Wang Chung. But the characters are less concerned about whether they’ll Wang Chung tonight; they’re more interested in getting laid. Debbie is horrified to hear that Rick’s party will have hookers, and strikes a blow for women’s lib by organizing a trip to a Chippendales show. In a battle of the sexes retort, Rick and his team them bribe one of the Chippendales to force Debbie’s mother to obliviously touch his exposed member. Hilarious, right?
Nope. While there is a structure here about Rick’s wedding being threatened by his disapproving potential in-laws, and the character of Brad, a drug-addled depressive offers a welcome jolt of seriousness, Bachelor Party is reprehensible due to its horrific attitude to women. Frat-boy humour has its defendants, but something of a nadir is reached when Rick’s party pay a woman to have sex with a donkey for their entertainment, a concept which the characters in the film find beyond amusing. The poor animal snorts cocaine from a kitchen counter and drops dead; what could be funnier? Almost anything; a blot on Hanks’ career that he’ll never quite live down, Bachelor Party is a foul, outdated collection of authentically filthy, male-chauvinist attitudes which one would like to hope don’t exist anymore, and a strange film to be currently featuring on Disney+.