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Bachelorman

Produced and co-written by standup comic Rodney Lee Conover and adapted from his act, "BachelorMan" feels like 30 minutes of sharp, smart comedy stretched out to three times that length. Though a theatrical release seems unlikely, pic should be welcomed by fests that consider comic fare, with a healthy presence on video and cable to follow.

Produced and co-written by standup comic Rodney Lee Conover and adapted from his act, “BachelorMan” feels like 30 minutes of sharp, smart comedy stretched out to three times that length. It’s the same problem that befalls most movies taken from sketch comedy (like the various “Saturday Night Live” films), except that when “BachelorMan” is on a roll, it’s so fresh and funny it nearly makes up for the dull stretches. Though a theatrical release seems unlikely, pic should be welcomed by fests that consider broad comic fare, with a healthy presence on video and cable to follow.

Directed by John Putch in a zesty, TV-sitcom style, “BachelorMan” is a commercial concept that wants to appeal to the widest possible audience and doesn’t ask to be taken any more seriously than the latest Adam Sandler vehicle. And while that honesty about its presentation is a big part of what makes “BachelorMan” unexpectedly appealing, it also may be its greatest marketing challenge. Unpretentious comedy doesn’t sell well to the pretentious indie-film crowd.

Structured as a “how to” primer for bachelorhood, pic opens with smirking, easygoing Ted Davis (a winning perf by David DeLuise — Dom’s son) telling us he’s “not crazy enough to think he’s God’s gift to women — just optimistic enough to think that women are God’s gift to him.” A programming exec for a sports cable network, Davis considers himself an authority on the single lifestyle, turning directly to the camera to offer handy, enumerated tips. A typical example recommends spraying furniture polish above one’s apartment door just prior to the arrival of a hot date to give the impression of having been cleaning all day in anticipation of her arrival.

What passes as plot is what happens when the unflappable Ted meets a mysterious brunette next door named Heather (Missi Pyle) who refuses to fall for anything in Davis’ very deep bag of tricks — BacheloretteWoman, if you will. She can be heard having loud sex all night, every night, through the thin wall separating her apartment from Ted’s.

Soon, Ted shows signs of changing his ways — for Heather, he might be willing to settle down. This becomes the subject of much consternation to Ted’s idol-worshipping, unlucky-in-love pals (the most outspoken of whom is amusingly played by Conover himself).

Pic is a lot more clever and much less grotesque than say, “Tomcats” and “Saving Silverman,” a pair of Hollywood films that raise the sanctity of bachelorhood. There are some truly hilarious bits — Heather turns out to be a phone-sex operator, and there’s a great scene of her stuffing a chicken while reaching a call’s climax. Still, many of the comic ideas are more inspired than their execution, and pic’s biggest drawback is that, despite the game performances of both DeLuise and Pyle, there’s a certain chemistry lacking between them.

But pic mightn’t have worked at all were it not for DeLuise’s splendidly cheeky performance. With his open, boyish face and self-effacing demeanor, he could be the long-lost brother of Luke and Owen Wilson.

Cinematographer Keith J. Duggan’s brightly-lit images are crisp and clean, again making fine use of the 24-frame high-definition video format that has quickly emerged as the best video substitute for 35mm film. The imaginatively crude animated sequences (in which BachelorMan springs to 2-D cartoon life) come courtesy of Atlanteum Visual Arts.

Bachelorman

  • Production: A Films on Tap presentation. Produced by Karen Bailey, Rodney Lee Conover, Helen Woo. Executive producer, Tad Lebeck. Co-producers, John Putch, Jerry P. Jacobs, Jeffrey C. Hause. Directed by John Putch. Screenplay, Rodney Lee Conover, Jeffrey C. Hause, David Hines.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Keith J. Duggan; editor, Randy Carter; music, Steve Bauman, J. Lynn Duckett; production designer, Philip Michael Brandes; art director, John Philpotts; set decorator, Greg Sanger; costume designer, Bonnie Stauch; sound (Dolby Digital), Dennis R. Grzesik; animation and visual effects, Atlanteum Visual Arts; assistant director, Tom Milo; casting, Thom Klohn. Reviewed on videocassette, L.A., July 26, 2003. (In Dances With Films and Palm Beach film festivals.) Running time: 90 MIN.
  • With: Ted Davis - David DeLuise Heather Newman - Missi Pyle Gordie Poster - Rodney Lee Conover Meg Thompson - Karen Bailey Mrs. Davis - Carol Locatell Mr. Yi - Clyde Kusatsu