Film Review: The Bachelors

Kurt Voelker’s The Bachelors is a drama which feels authentic. Good performances and a well-crafted narrative make for decent viewing.

After the death of his beloved wife, Bill and his teenage son Wes move across the country for a new start. Bill has a new teaching job in a private school, but grapples with his grief as he attempts to start afresh…

Written and directed by Kurt Voelker, The Bachelors is a drama about grief. There are aspects of comedy and romance, yet drama is the dominant force. Despite the subject matter, the film is not maudlin. The portrayal of a grieving father and son feels authentic. The fact that the focus is on male characters makes for a welcome change.

The story follows Bill, a year on the death of his wife of over thirty years. His attempt to deal with his grief has led him to relocate with his son. In Voelker’s film, grief isn’t something that is cured by fresh start or a burgeoning romance. Instead, viewers are given a more realistic portrayal. There are ups and downs for him, as well as difficulty in letting go, despite long-term therapy.

The other strand of the film focuses on Wes as he starts a new school. His main narrative focuses on his romantic interest in Lacy. Whilst Wes is sufficiently developed character, Lacy’s issues feel like shorthand. The most striking scenes with Wes tend to be with his father. The relationship between Bill and Carine fares better, although dialogue is not always  as good as the performances. J.K. Simmons delivers a very convincing and at times moving performance as Bill. Josh Wiggins is good as Wes, even if the chemistry with Odeya Rush’s Lacy does not hit the mark. Julie Delpy is also good, although she is not given a great deal to do.

The Bachelors works well thanks to J.K. Simmons’ strong performance and Voelker’s tempered exploration of the subject.

The Bachelors is available on DVD from Monday 28th May 2018.





Film Review: Goosebumps


Based on the bestselling series of children’s books, Goosebumps is a very enjoyable adventure. The film features the right blend of comedy, adventure and horror to make it an entertaining watch.

Teenager Zach and his mother relocate from New York to a small town for her new job. Zach is intrigued when he meets next door neighbour Hannah, but her mysterious father is not keen on the friendship. When things take a supernatural turn, Zach and Hannah go about setting things right…

Director Rob Letterman’s Goosebumps should prove to be an entertaining picture for most audiences. The film will best suit older children and young teenagers, although it is entertaining for viewers outside this demographic. Goosebumps functions as an adventure film, with healthy elements of comedy and horror. There is good level of mystery which drives forward the narrative initially.

The film references the book series it is based on in an explicit way. This is not an adaptation of a Goosebumps tale, rather it is a film about the book series. As such, the film works better than an adaptation would have.

Zach is a relatable enough protagonist for the audience to root for him. Comedy is mostly derived from Zach’s sidekick Champ. The structure of the narrative is overtly referenced by Hannah’s father in his musings of what a Goosebumps story should be. The film moves at a good pace, to a climax that is engaging, even if it is predictable. The level of threat in Goosebumps is mitigated to suit the intended audience. Nevertheless, their is sufficient creepiness in antagonists to chill viewers of all ages.

Special effects in the film are great. The film’s setting is perfect for the action that unfolds. Jack Black offers a suitable performance in the kind of role audiences are used to seeing him in. Ryan Lee is well cast as Champ, whilst Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush have good chemistry as Zach and Hannah.

Goosebumps should prove a hit with older children, and those who like their horror on the family-friendly side.