Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:42 - Released 11/5/99

Would you marry Chris O'Donnell for 100 million dollars? Okay, well, what about if he were a stranger? That's the question asked by The Bachelor, a romantic comedy based on the 1925 Buster Keaton film Seven Chances. In this version, adapted by Steve Cohen and directed by Gary Sinyor, O'Donnell plays Jimmie Shannon, a confirmed bachelor who must marry within the next 24 hours in order to receive his grandfather's multimillion-dollar inheritance. Though not without laughs, this movie suffers the same fate as many such comedies. It has a clever premise and some great bits, but devolves into mushy nonsense in the final reel.

Jimmie has a steady girlfriend, Ann (Renée Zellweger), and he does want to marry her, but his attempt at a proposal ("you win") falls flat. After she gives up on him, Jimmie learns about the will from his deceased grandfather (Englishman Peter Ustinov, donning an amusing Texan accent). In a videotaped testimony similar to the one in Brewster's Millions, the old man lays it on the line: get married by 6 p.m. on your 30th birthday, stay married for at least 10 years, and produce children, or you're cut off without a cent. Unfortunately, that means that Jimmie would also lose his family's billiards equipment company, and hundreds of friends and employees would be out in the cold. And to make matters worse, his 30th birthday just happens to be tomorrow.

With Ann apparently out of the picture, Jimmie, assisted by his friend Marco (Artie Lange), manager (Hal Holbrook) and attorney (Ed Asner), begins searching for the next Mrs. Shannon. They book a church, hire a priest (James Cromwell), and contact numerous former girlfriends, including Mariah Carey and Brooke Shields. But all the ladies are either attached, offended, uninterested, or all of the above. Besides, Jimmie can't escape the realization that the one he really wants is Ann. With the hours dwindling, he must find her and make things right.

With its cast of ex-lovers, Cohen's first screenplay takes us on a mildly amusing jaunt through Jimmie's past. There are a few standout performances, like Shields, who almost goes through with it until she discovers she actually has to have sex with him (that would turn me off, too). The theme of Jimmie imagining himself as a wild mustang being roped and tamed allows for Sinyor to create some amusing images, but all the women in the film except Ann are stereotyped in one way or another. This may be the first chick flick that shows an open lack of respect for chicks. Meanwhile, O'Donnell and Zellweger both give the lackluster performances of actors caught in a mediocre romance, just putting in time for a paycheck. In the end, The Bachelor doesn't appear to have much more in the way of brains than Runaway Bride or Mickey Blue Eyes. **½

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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