Father of the Bride review – slick comedy remake stacks the charm | comedy movies

JSerious, mid-budget studio comedy comes to life this week with HBO Max’s sleek remake of Father of the Bride, a mostly charming throwback to a time of great music, great speeches, and great cuisine. It’s a story told twice before, once in 1950 by Vincente Minnelli with the help of Spencer Tracy, then decades later with Nancy Meyers ushering in Steve Martin, but it’s a dynamic we’ve seen far more than time, the overprotective father struggling to let his beloved daughter go, especially when she’s walking all the way down the aisle.

This is Phone a familiar setup that our minds instantly go into sitcom territory — dad with a wiggling finger, daughter with hands on hips — and so to its credit, Mexican director Gary Alazraki’s straight-forward recast manages to feel more bigger than that, not just because it feels like a splashy theatrical release, but because in dragging the oft-told story into the 2020s, it finds a way to make it specific and culturally expansive. Along with screenwriter Matt Lopez, he moved the traditional Wasp-y tale into more diverse and dramatically interesting territory with a Cuban-American family at its center. El Padre de la Novia, as he is also known, centers on Billy (Andy Garcia), an exile who rose from nothing to become a successful architect in Miami with his devoted wife Ingrid (an extremely rare acting role for Gloria Estefan) at his side. But decades later, their marriage has soured, and when their daughter Sofia (Morbius star Adria Arjona) comes 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 intends to do so in just four weeks.

Even if we hadn’t seen either of the two previous versions, the course of the story – from the estrangement to the reconciliation, passing through the monologue on the estrangement then the reconciliation – will offer few surprises. But the fun of a film like this, and the films it capably recalls, lies less in what is told than in how it is told and Alazraki, with his greatest film yet, s turns out to be a deft hand at creating the kind of shiny studio image we don’t see much of anymore. The much-hyped comeback of rom-coms has, for me, offered very little joy and was mostly done on a shoestring budget with very little artistry. But Alazraki acknowledges that the packaging is just as important as what’s inside and he brings a level of Nancy Meyers-like opulence with an evocative jazzy score, extravagant use of Miami locations and quantity. required food and homemade porn (a faux-take the last-minute wedding prep sequence is one of the most delicious things I’ve seen all year).

What the recent rom-com revival has attempted to correct is the mostly white, almost entirely straight nature of many movies that many of us grew up with, allowing a wider cast of characters to finally get started. in the airport moment. Telling Father of the Bride with an almost exclusively Latino cast works so well because Lopez’s script draws on a specificity that gives the film its own distinctive character, touching on intra-community conflicts and basing the father’s actions on what he lived as a Cuban exile in the United States, which gives added texture to how he deals with ideas of 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, choosing soft-spoken liberalism over a more traditional form of hyper-masculinity (he is, sip, not really into sports). But rather than fall into regressive boomer v millennial, alpha v beta stereotypes (as in 2019’s disgusting Shaft sequel), Lopez’s surprisingly deft screenplay shows that it’s the eldest who needs to grow and develop. learning and that the young man’s progressiveness is something that can help get him out of the rut he’s stuck in.

It’s even more disappointing then that the other girl, played by the ever-magnetic Isabela Merced, is cursed with an embarrassingly shy Hays Code-era gay story that’s so vague it might as well not exist. It smacks of studio cowardice how it’s still going, which is odd considering the film is skipping a theatrical release, so one would assume the territory is less tricky. There are also confusing missteps in the film’s handling of wealth, particularly in the inconsistency of what the girl does and doesn’t want at her wedding, urging something small and earthy while committing a ostentatious wedding planner via Instagram. This is all purely to pay homage to Martin Short’s character in the 1991 film and allows for a rather jarring turn from SNL’s otherwise hilarious Chloe Fineman. Garcia lacks Steve Martin’s comedic chops and so the film wisely leans into more pronounced comedy, a wise choice considering the cast, but a few more laughs wouldn’t have gone wrong. While the script also could have given Estefan a little more to do, she has a warm and easygoing chemistry with Garcia, with the pair taking the material more seriously than it often deserves.

There’s nothing particularly noteworthy about Father of the Bride 2022 (will there ever really have been?) but it’s a much better and smoother movie than you might expect from the start, a streaming premiere made with such confidence that it surely deserved a run on the big screen.

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