Directed by: Gary Alazraki
Premise: Based on the novel by Edward Streeter. Set in Miami, a successful family man (Andy Garcia) faces the imminent end of his marriage. He is surprised by the sudden engagement of his oldest daughter (Adria Arjona).
What Works: 2022’s Father of the Bride of the third feature film version of this story following the 1950 picture starring Spencer Tracy and the 1991 film starring Steve Martin. While the 1950 and 1991 movies were basically the same, the makers of 2022’s Father of the Bride bring a fresh approach to the material. The core story is preserved but the family of the latest version has been reimagined as Hispanic and a new subplot has been added. The ethnicity of the characters gives this Father of the Bride a distinct flavor and the movie takes on aspects of an immigrant narrative. The movie starts with middle aged couple Billy and Ingrid in therapy where the wife announces her desire for divorce. This transforms the meaning of the picture. Billy’s anxiety about his daughter’s wedding isn’t just fatherly jitters; he’s watching his family come apart and Billy resists change in an effort to hold things together. The film acknowledges the diversity within the Hispanic community and uses it to create texture and conflict. Billy’s family is of Cuban descent while his in-laws are from Mexico and each family has their own traditions. The plot of the original movie is mostly intact but the changes strengthen this version, particularly in the end in which the characters confront a last-minute challenge that brings the family together. Father of the Bride also benefits from nuanced characters played by likable actors. Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan play Billy and Ingrid and they are convincing as a couple who’ve been married for a long time. Garcia in particular gets to show a range of emotions and he conveys a lot with his posture and gaze. Also impressive are Adria Arjona and Isabela Merced as his daughters who each have a distinct personality and are given more to do than just be a bride and maid of honor. Also notable in a supporting role is Chloe Fineman as the wedding planner. Fineman is very funny and willing to make herself the butt of the joke.
What Doesn’t: All three versions of Father of the Bride display ostentatious wealth. The family of each incarnation is well off and live comfortable lives. That’s to be expected from Hollywood which generally presents an idealized version of American life. However, the wealth of this Father of the Bride is off the charts. Andy and Ingrid and their family live in a sprawling home only to be outdone by their son-in-law’s parents who are superrich. The wealth of both families, but especially the in-laws, hurts the movie’s credibility and appeal. Father of the Bride is rooted in the intimate experience of a man watching his daughter become a wife. This film’s display of wealth makes the movie less intimate and at times artificial. The authentic moments between the family members and the performances by the central cast are enough to preserve the film’s integrity but for a few scenes Father of the Bride veers into sitcom territory.
DVD extras: On HBO Max.
Bottom Line: 2022’s Father of the Bride is a likable new version of a familiar story. The additions to this film improve on the original material and distinguish it enough to justify the remake.
Episode: #906 (June 19, 2022)