The Bachelors

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Bachelors Movie Poster Image
Touching father-son story of grief and love.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 108 minutes

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We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters must learn how to handle their grief and, more importantly, how to trust others to listen and help. Ultimately champions empathy and understanding.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The four main characters are flawed but kind, and although they succumb to doubts and fears, they do seem to listen to one another and try to help one another.

Violence

A character cuts herself; she slices into her arm, and blood is shown. A bully is bashed in the head with a lunch tray; brief fight, with punching. Slapping. A wife/mother character is said to be dead. Vomiting/passing out.

Sex

Teen kissing. A couple is shown asleep in bed together. Women are objectified in an early scene; after attractive girls climb off a bus, a boy calls it the "muff truck." Reference to "wild, gymnastic sex." Reference to masturbation. Some sex talk.

Language

Several uses of "s--t" and a use of "f--k," plus "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation), "ass," "asshat," "jackass," "dumbass," "whore," "d--k," "muff," "freak," "snots," "brain dead," "moron," and middle-finger gestures.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens hold red plastic cups at a party (contents unknown, but alcohol is implied). Adults drink socially. An adult takes prescription mood-enhancers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Bachelors is a dramedy about a father and his teen son recovering from the death of their wife/mother. It's quite touching, with themes of empathy, and it should be fine for high-schoolers and up. A teen girl cuts herself; some slicing/blood is shown. There's a brief cafeteria fight between two teen boys; one gets hit with a lunch tray. Teens briefly kiss, and there's some sex talk. Teen girls are objectified in one scene, emerging in slow motion from a bus (the term "muff truck" is used). Language includes a few uses of "s--t" and variations on "ass," plus several other words and insults. An adult takes mood-enhancing medication and drinks socially. Teens hold red cups at a party, though the contents aren't revealed.

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What's the story?

In THE BACHELORS, Bill Palet (J.K. Simmons) suddenly decides, following the death of his beloved wife, to move from San Francisco to Los Angeles with his teenage son, Wes (Josh Wiggins). There, Bill hopes for a fresh start at a prep school where an old college buddy is headmaster: Bill can be a teacher and Wes, a student. Sports are mandatory, so Wes goes out for cross-country, while Bill starts seeing a therapist (Harold Perrineau). Wes also has a French class in which his teacher, Carine (Julie Delpy), assigns him to tutor the troubled Lacey (Odeya Rush). Wes and Lacey begin a tentative, uneasy friendship, while Carine starts getting to know the lonesome, grieving Bill. Can these two bachelors learn to love again?

Is it any good?

While this tale could easily have tumbled over the edge in any direction, writer/director Kurt Voelker presents it as a balanced, nuanced, and gentle family story that becomes genuinely touching. The Bachelors could have been overly goopy or maudlin, dealing as it does with the death of a loved one, but it's brave enough to face grief in a real way. And the characters might have been one-dimensional, defined by their loss and presented as helpless, but they're not. They have realistic strengths and weaknesses.

The movie could also have been cutesy, with little musical montages and attempts at quirkiness, but even its motif of the car with the reverse-facing passenger seat seems to flow right along with the story. Credit must be given to the excellent cast, especially Simmons and Delpy, who soften the edges they've shown in other movies and play up appealing vulnerabilities. Wiggins and Rush are likewise very good, playing something close to human beings, rather than a movie's idea of "teenagers."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how female characters are treated in The Bachelors. Are women objectified? Is that behavior condoned?

  • How does the movie deal with death and grief? What does it say about the grieving process? Can other people help?

  • How does the movie show the importance of empathy? Why is that a key character strength?

  • When violence is shown in the movie, is it gratuitous, or does it make sense with the story and characters? What's the difference?

  • How well do the father and son characters communicate with one another? Do they argue?

Movie details

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