Father of the Bride Review – Slick Comedy Remake Stacks Up on the Charm | Comedy Movies

tThe serious, mid-budget studio comedy gets another gentle jolt to life this week with HBO Max’s tight remake of Father of the Bride, a mostly charming return to a time of big music, big speeches and big kitchens. It’s a story that’s been told twice before, once in 1950 by Vincente Minnelli with help from Spencer Tracy and decades later with Nancy Meyers ushering in Steve Martin, but it’s a dynamic we’ve seen much more than that, the overprotective dad struggling to let his beloved daughter go especially when she’s all the way down the aisle.

To be such an a familiar setup where our minds instantly take to sitcom territory – father with wagging finger, daughter with hands on hips – and to its credit, Mexican director Gary Alazraki’s live stream manages to feel bigger than that, not only because it looks like a smashing theatrical release, but because by dragging the oft-told story into the 2020s, he finds a way to make it feel specific and culturally expansive. Along with screenwriter Matt Lopez, he has moved the traditional Wasp-y story into a more diverse and dramatically interesting area centered on a Cuban-American family. El Padre de la Novia, as it’s also called, centers on Billy (Andy Garcia), an outlaw who rose from scratch to become a successful architect in Miami with his devoted wife Ingrid (an extremely rare acting role for Gloria Estefan) on his side. But decades later, their marriage has come to an end and when their daughter Sofia (Morbius star Adria Arjona) returns home from law school, they decide to reveal their divorce to the family. Before they can, they are surprised by even bigger news: Sofia is getting married and plans to do so in just four weeks.

Even if you haven’t seen either of the two previous versions, where the story goes next – from arguing to making amends to monologues to arguing and then making up again – won’t hold much of a surprise. But the fun of a movie like this, and the movies it skillfully remembers, is less in what it’s told and more in how it’s told, and Alazraki, having his biggest movie yet, proves to be a good hand. in making the kind of high-gloss studio image we don’t see that much anymore. The buzz about the return of romcoms has brought very little joy to me and has mostly been done on a tight budget with very little artistry. But Alazraki recognizes that the packaging is just as important as what’s inside and he brings a Nancy Meyers-adjacent level of opulence with an evocative jazzy score, an extravagant use of Miami locations, and the requisite amount of food and house porn (a faux one- taking a series of last minute wedding preparations is one of the most delightful things I’ve seen all year).

What the recent rom-com renaissance has tried to correct is the predominantly white and almost completely heterosexual nature of many of the movies many of us grew up with, allowing a wider spectrum of characters to finally run through the airport moment. Retelling Father of the Bride with an almost exclusively Latino cast works so well because Lopez’s script relies on a specificity that gives the film its own distinctive character, addresses intra-community conflicts, and bases the father’s actions on what he experienced as a Cuban exile in the US, giving additional texture to how he handles ideas about money and tradition. His character represents the old world and his future son-in-law the new, the latter being played by Mexican singer-actor Diego Boneta, who prefers gentle liberalism over a more traditional form of hyper-masculinity (he’s, gulp, not quite sporting). But instead of falling into regressive boomer-v-millennial, alpha-v-beta stereotypes (as in 2019’s disgusting Shaft sequel), Lopez’s surprisingly nimble script shows that it’s the older that needs to grow and learning and that the younger man’s progressivism is something that can help him get out of the rut he’s stuck in.

It’s even more disappointing then that the other daughter, played by the ever-magnetic Isabela Merced, is cursed with an embarrassingly coy Hays Code-era gay story that’s so vague it might as well not exist. It smacks of how-is-this-still cowardice happens in the studio, which is odd considering the movie skips a theatrical release, so you’d assume the territory is less delicate. There are also some confused missteps in the film’s handling of wealth, especially in the inconsistency of what the daughter does and doesn’t want at her wedding, insisting on something small and earthy while then hiring a flashy wedding planner via Instagram. It’s all purely to honor Martin Short’s character in the 1991 film and makes for a rather shocking turn for SNL’s otherwise hilarious Chloe Fineman. Garcia doesn’t have Steve Martin’s comedic chops and so the film wisely opts for the more outspoken comedy, a wise choice given the casting, but a few laughs wouldn’t have gone amiss. While the script could have given Estefan a little more to do, she has a warm, easygoing chemistry with Garcia, with the pair taking the material more seriously than it often deserves.

There’s nothing special about Father of the Bride 2022 (would it ever really come?) running on the big screen.

Leave a Comment