The Bachelor (1999)
Main cast: Chris O'Donnell (Jimmie Shannon), Renee Zellweger (Anne), Artie Lange (Marco), and James Cromwell (Father)
Director: Gary Sinyor

Jimmie Shannon loves Anne, but he can't commit. After a disastrous proposal, Jimmie is ditched by Anne who runs off to lick her wounds in Athens. Then Jimmie's grandfather, played by Peter Ustinov, kicks the bucket and left 100 million dollars in cash, property, and stocks to him. That is, if Jimmie marries before 6.05 pm on his 30th birthday. Thing is, Anne's away and while he wants to marry Anne and no else, he couldn't stand to see his grandfather's employees be retrenched should he fail to inherit and the Shannon holdings be sold. What to do?

Well, there's a great concept, but too bad the whole movie is bland. Bland with a capital B, and blah too. Bland and blah's what Chris O'Donnell is, his supposedly smooth and suave commitment-phobic Jimmie coming more like the slimy geek in your high school that tries to put the move on everything that moves. Poor O'Donnell has one expression for every scene he is in.

There are some potentially funny moments: the imagery of matrimony as a lasso of "wild mustangs" (our guys), Jimmie's spurning by ten ex-girlfriends, but these all somehow come off at best mildly chuckle-inducing.

Part of the trouble may be the main actors who play their roles as if they're rehearsing for an amateurish but expensive play. Renee Zellweger, clueless in Jerry Maguire, is clueless in The Bachelor. Artie Lange plays Jimmie's sidekick somewhat amusingly, but he soon grates because next to O'Donell's rigor mortis of an acting repertoire, he begins to seem like overacting after 30 minutes.

For a romantic movie, The Bachelor sure pulls out all the amateurish cliches that no self-respecting maker of romantic movies would ever use. Heroines who spend the whole time dreaming of The Perfect Proposal and weeps and sulks when she doesn't get one (Anne gets "It's time to s*it or get off the pot" instead of "Anne, will you be my wife?") - what are we moviegoers to these people? Surely chick-flick fans like me are more sophisticated than these sort of 1970s Mills and Boons heroine. Anne is insecure and wimpy. Jimmie is bland and uninteresting. Marriage made in heaven.

The only bright spark is James Cromwell's priest gently narrating the joys of marriage. "Nothing is better than seeing the face of the woman you love grow old with you," he says, the wistful smile and the way his eyes grow misty at the thought of his late wife... wonderful.

But really, that's only less than 10 minutes of this long, boring, half-baked, and utterly lifeless movie.

Rating: 46

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