"Father of the Bride"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Steve Martin as GEORGE BANKS
Diane Keaton as NINA BANKS
Kimberly Williams as ANNIE BANKS
Martin Short as FRANCK EGGELHOFFER
Kieran Culkin as MATTY BANKS
George Newbern as BRYAN MACKENZIE
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Directed by: Charles Shyer
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I will always have a special place in my heart for the Steve Martin version of “Father of the Bride.” It’s like the special place I have for the movie “Alex and Emma,” which was the film my wife and I were watching when she went into labor with my second son.
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“Father of the Bride” was one of the first romantic movies I actually saw with my wife - back when we were dating in college. We had spent many afternoons and evenings in movie theaters, but I usually trumped the choices we had. I was into sci-fi, action and horror. She was into romantic comedies. When “Father of the Bride” came out, she wanted to see it, so I took her along.
I’m not going to go as far to say that was when I knew I would marry my wife, but I will say that the whole marriage motif of the movie didn’t freak me out. And for a guy in college, that’s going pretty far.
However, unlike “Alex and Emma” (which was kind of a stinker of a movie otherwise), “Father of the Bride” was still a fantastic film. It was one of those sweet PG movies that didn’t feel like a PG movie. It wasn’t trying to hit a demographic; it was just a good film. That was the magic that the creative team Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer had.
This was also at the start of Steve Martin’s reinventing of his image. He was no longer the wild and crazy guy from Saturday Night Live. He was no longer the Jerk who was fascinated with his “special purpose” and had a dog named “sh*thead.” He was moving into family comedies. “Father of the Bride” came on the heels of such movies and “Parenthood” when Martin found a way to be funny, but in a family sort of way.
It was also a chance for Steve Martin to work with his partner in crime, Martin Short. The two of them have always had chemistry, even when they were making weak films like “Three Amigos.” In many ways, Martin Short stole the show in this film in portraying his legendary flamboyant wedding planner Franck (pronounced “Frahnk”.
Like “Home Alone,” which came out only a year or so before this, “Father of the Bride” was incredibly well paced. It didn’t feel rushed, but it never gets boring. It manages to give us the point of view of the doting father while keeping the daughter’s view in full perspective.
Even the sequel that this film spawned wasn’t so bad as you might expect. By reuniting many of the cast and crew, “Father of the Bride II” managed to keep the same energy and spark, although it will never top the first film.
The 15th Anniversary DVD includes an audio commentary with director Charles Shyer. He gives a very competent commentary and offers an interesting perspective as he is looking back a decade and a half to this film. Other bonus features include some behind-the-scenes shenanigans with Steve Martin and Martin Short. The funniest section is when they interview each other and riff in an improv format, each trying to one-up the other with a dig or a zinger.
Having never seen the original version of “Father of the Bride,” I came at this movie with a fresh eye. It is an adorable little film that has not lost its spark in the past fifteen years.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1), enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track; English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.