(Welcome to DTV Descent, a series that explores the weird and wild world of direct-to-video sequels to theatrically released movies. This week, we examine a sequel to a Tom Hanks “classic” to see if his absence is for the better or worse.)
While I expect this post to be read and studied for decades to come in universities and Cinemax channel board rooms, it has a very timely poignancy as of its writing. America’s dad, Tom Hanks, recently fell ill with a virus that swept the globe in early 2020, and while he and his lovely wife Rita Wilson pulled through, there was a palpable fear in the air that forced people to imagine a world where saving Mr. Hanks would no longer be a possibility.
It’s a nightmare scenario, but it’s not a new one. In fact, just twelve short years ago the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment did the very same thing – they imagined a world without Tom Hanks, and the result was a sequel to his second box-office hit, 1984’s Bachelor Party. Is it the disaster that most people would have prophesied had they been aware of its existence? Or is this party maybe a little bit more entertaining than its better known predecessor? Let’s find out together as we descend into the depths for a look at Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation.
The Beginning – Bachelor Party (1984)
Rick Gassko (Hanks) is a lucky man. Not only does he have a sweet job driving a school bus for a Catholic school, but he’s also engaged to marry the lovely Debbie Thompson. Her family isn’t nearly as keen on the idea seeing as they’re wealthy, classy, snooty folks, and he’s none of those things with nothing in common, but except Rick has bigger problems, though, as his best friends have planned an epic bachelor party to send him off into married life. Unfortunately for him, they’re not exactly Harvard symbologists – or even moderately smart – meaning that what should have been a simple party grows into one involving prostitutes, an angry pimp, an even angrier hotel manager, a dead donkey, enough shenanigans for two T&A comedies, and lots of gay panic. Oh, and then there’s also Debbie’s ex who’s hunting Rick with a crossbow…
The DTV Plot – Bachelor Party 2: The Last Temptation (2008)
Ron is a lucky man. Not only does he probably have a job, but he’s also engaged to marry the lovely Melinda. Her family isn’t nearly as keen on the idea as they’re wealthy, classy, snooty folks, and he’s none of those things. Ron has bigger problems, though, as his future brother-in-law has planned an epic bachelor party with an ulterior motive. Todd is actually planning to set up Ron by getting him into bed with another woman in the hopes that he calls off the wedding, whether by choice or due to blackmail. Cue the strippers, hot tub antics, sex addicts, a secret Nazi hottie – dubbed a Hotzi – and lots of gay panic.
The 1984 original hit theaters just four months after Ron Howard’s Splash made Hanks a household name, but the film’s R-rating saw it aiming for an older (or sneakier) audience. The power of Hanks still made it a hit, though, bringing in nearly $40 million on a $5 million budget. The supporting cast is lower tier talents, but there are plenty of familiar faces among them including Tawny Kitaen, Adrian Zmed, Wendie Jo Sperber, and more. The filmmakers themselves were also riding the wave of a comedy success from earlier in the year as co-writers Neal Israel and Pat Proft’s Police Academy had already taken the box-office by storm earning over $80m and starting a decade-long franchise. The pair would go on to write/co-write such memorable comedy hits as Real Genius (1985), The Naked Gun (1988), Look Who’s Talking Too (1990), and Scary Movie 3 (2003).
For the follow-up, the studio cast away known talents and went with both a writer and director making their feature debut. For director James Ryan it was also his last feature film, but writer Jay Longino would go on to write Skiptrace (2016) and Uncle Drew (2018) in an effort to showcase his variety. (The film’s Wiki page mentions it was part of Project Greenlight, but I can’t find any further confirmation on that count.) The cast is a bit more recognizable, but none managed to parlay the film into anything bigger, and that includes the film’s Hanks stand-in, Josh Cooke. He’s a reliable actor and has worked steadily since this leading role in far more supporting ones, and he’s joined here by Sara Foster, Harland Williams, and Emmanuelle Vaugier.
How the Sequel Respects the Original
As is often the case with DTV sequels, there’s no actual connection between this film and the 80s original. How difficult would it have been to throw fans a cameo bone? Was Adrian Zmed busy? Was Nick the Dick too sacred a character to revisit? Barring that, the filmmakers clearly felt the next best thing was to simply remake the first film instead with the addition of even more nudity. It maintains T&A standards, and while I didn’t actually count individual breasts I’m pretty sure there are far more on display this time around. Sure, some of the specifics are different, but the bulk of the film plays pretty much the same as our hero stumbles and fumbles his way through sexy scenarios on his way to confirming his love for his special lady. The gags are every bit as sophomoric and basic too as there’s not even the slightest attempt to update the sexual politics in any way. But hey, at least the women aren’t terrorized by a group of horny Japanese businessmen this time around.
How the Sequel Shits on the Original
The original Bachelor Party is not a good movie – it’s true, I promise – so it makes for a very low bar to clear for the sequel. Seriously, go back and watch the film (but don’t really) and you’ll see jokes that don’t land, “good” guy characters demonstrating some terrible behavior towards women, casual “humor” built entirely on the race of non-whites, and one hell of an icky gay panic reaction. A couple beats land here and there, namely the bit between Debbie’s mom and the previously mentioned Nick the Dick, but it’s not good. Two things make it passable, though, and neither is something the sequel can manage.
First up is the time period as 80s comedies are bursting with inappropriate antics that, while not necessarily funny then were at least the norm. A film made in 2008 can’t rest on that excuse meaning that its own poor writing, offensive stereotypes, lame gags, and dudes terrified to be perceived as gay are simply the work of laziness. The second strike involves the lack of a talent even moderately close to Hanks. While Bachelor Party is no high point in Hanks’ career it’s still unable to mute or muffle the man’s comedic genius. From his body movements to his facial expressions to his line delivery, Hanks knows his way around a gag and enhances every one he touches. The sequel has no such secret weapon, and Cooke, while again a competent actor, lacks comedic chops. It leaves the film with a dull center surrounded by questionable behaviors and DOA jokes.
These columns typically play out a usual way – a good to great original receives a mediocre at best DTV sequel, but this entry is almost in a league of its own because that original? It’s almost as far from good as Hanks is from the sequel. Seriously, re-watch the film (but don’t really) and you’ll see. This DTV sequel is still a step down, but it’s not nearly as big of one as we’re used to. And yes, 20th Century Fox does have my permission to use that pull quote for future marketing purposes.
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