Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Movie Review: "Father of the Bride" (1991)

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Movie"Father of the Bride"
Director: Charles Shyer
Year: 1991
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

With his daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) returning from Europe, George Banks (Steve Martin) is looking forward to spending some quality time with his little girl. He is hit with the shock of a lifetime when she returns madly in love with a fiance named Bryan (George Newbern). Now, George is facing the very harsh reality that his little girl is now all grown up, and he has to let her go for good, a prospect he is having trouble coping with as the person who used to be the only man in her life.

Directed by Charles Shyer, "Father of the Bride" is a 1990's comedy remake of the 1950's film of the same name. This version stars Steve Martin as George Banks, a father who is having a hard time dealing with the fact his daughter is growing up. Joining Martin is Diane Keaton as George's wife Nina, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who plays their daughter Annie, and a very young Kieran Culkin as George and Nina's "surprise" son Matty. Annie has recently been to Europe for several months to study the architecture there and has just returned home. She surprises her parents with the news that she "met a man in Rome, and he's wonderful and brilliant, and they're getting married." Her fiance's name is Bryan, played by George Newbern, an independent communications consultant who comes from a wealthy Bel Air family. Upon first meeting Bryan, Nina adores him and how much he loves her daughter, but George? George nitpicks every single thing about Bryan and instantly dislikes him and his handsy approach to their daughter. Since George still sees Annie as his little girl despite her being in her early 20's, he has a little trouble coming to terms with his daughter's impending nuptials.

Steve Martin does an excellent job filling the role of the overprotective, zany parent who is at odds with throwing his daughter her dream wedding, but simultaneously doesn't want to let his daughter go. He gets into numerous situations that are extremely awkward but hilarious, though they are almost always due to his own bad judgment. This film takes a more traditional stance on weddings, and as per unwritten rule, the father of the bride is in charge of paying for the wedding. George isn't exactly poor, but he's certainly not as well off as his daughter's soon-to-be in-laws. Very soon after the wedding date is set, the tremendous pressure of the upcoming lush, extravagant, and expensive wedding begins mounting on George. Between having to rearrange his house, having to sit in on cake and china procurement, trying to find a tuxedo that fits and isn't from the 70's, picking and choosing who to invite and discovering who may or may not be's all too much for him. It doesn't help that Annie and Nina have hired a wedding coordinator named Franck, played by Martin Short, who is constantly breathing down his neck. Needless to say, chaos ensues, and as things progress in the planning of this wedding, things start to fall apart for not just George, but those closest to him who have to endure his wedding-induced insanity. As the expenses go up, so too does George's instability, which leads to his eventual breakdown. The only one there to force him to get a grip is his lovely wife Nina, and Diane Keaton does an outstanding job playing his wife, tasked with roping him in on several occasions. Much less agitated and much more levelheaded, Keaton provides the voice of reason during the wedding planning madness. Kimberly Williams-Paisley is not a hugely well known actress, but her portrayal of Annie, a woman who just wants to marry the love of her life, is excellent. She holds her own with veteran actors Martin, Keaton, and Short, and feels wise beyond her years. She and George Newbern have believable, luminous chemistry, as do Martin and Keaton. And speaking of Martin Short, the aforementioned wedding jitters leads to some hilarious, over the top comedic moments from Short, who, odd accent and all, does an equally fabulous job in his smaller role.

I grew up watching "Father of the Bride" and have fond memories of it. Watching it now as a married adult, I love it just the same. The situations might be zany, but there is an underlying tenderness to it all, and though some might see George's actions as abhorrent, pushy, and rude, well, remember, this is a comedy. We always enjoy pulling this movie out, and when we do, we know we're in for a worthy, solid remake that does justice to its source featuring a tremendous cast, some hilarious exchanges, and a whole lot of heart.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 73%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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