A romantic comedy in which Jimmie (Chris O'Donnell), can't come to terms with leaving bachelorhood. After an unromantic attempt at proposing to his girlfriend (Renee Zellweger), she decides he isn't ready for marriage. After they have separated, his grandfather dies and his last will and testament leaves O'Donnell a $100 million inheritance, with a catch. He must be married by his thirtieth birthday. He now has 24 hours to convince his girlfriend he is ready for marriage and go to the altar.
The Bachelor got critically slammed when it played in theaters, probably because reviewers couldn't help comparing it with the movie on which it's based, the brilliant Buster Keaton comedy Seven Chances. But on its own terms, The Bachelor is a modest and enjoyable picture about Jimmie (Chris O'Donnell), a happily single young man who suddenly gets an ultimatum from his grandfather's will: marry by his 30th birthday or lose an inheritance of $100 million. This is revealed the day before that very birthday. Unfortunately, Jimmie had already proposed to his girlfriend Anne (Renee Zellweger) and been turned down; she can see in his eyes that he isn't ready to get married and refuses to accept him until he is. So Jimmie needs to find a bride--fast. Though the commitment-shy man is a hoary cliché, The Bachelor successfully exaggerates Jimmie's fears to comic proportions. O'Donnell is his usual affable self, but it's Zellweger who seizes every scene she's in and makes something really enjoyable out it. The movie's greatest weakness is that she's such a small part of the second half. Still, there's good supporting performances from Hal Holbrook, Ed Asner, James Cromwell, and Marley Shelton (as Zellweger's sister), and Peter Ustinov and Brooke Shields both have very funny scenes. The Bachelor skirts some dangerously chauvinistic territory at times, but by and large it's a pleasant comedy with some genuine good humor. --Bret Fetzer