Father of the Bride is a real charmer carried by the wonderful Andy Garcia.
This review of the HBO Max film Father of the Bride (2022) does not contain spoilers.
The original Father of the Bride was a holiday staple in my house growing up. Anything with Steve Martin. From Neal mistaking Del’s bosoms for pillows in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to Naven protecting the cans in The Jerk, to Freddy Benson defecating at the dinner table while wearing an eye patch in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, his films had us laughing through cold Buffalo winters (yes, we were not an It’s a Wonderful Life family). So, anytime a wild and crazy guy classic comedy is remade, I am hesitant to remake any classic. I mean, there are enough flawed flops out there, right? Where The Hustle, the “DRS” remake, was almost a carbon copy of the original. This Father of the Bride has the cojones to put enough spin on the story to make it its own. It also has a very funny turn by the great Andy Garcia.
And yes, I know Charley Shyer’s Father of the Bride was a remake of the 1950 film starring Spencer Tracey and Elizabeth Taylor. Even Fronk Oz’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a remake of the 1964 Marlon Brando vehicle, Bedtime Story. So, the entire thought process I have here shows my hypocrisy in remakes. That’s because the Hollywood remake machine has been alive and well for half a century. What Gaz Alazraki’s (We Are the Nobles) reimagining does so well is placing the classic story within a world viewed through a lens of immigrants and their first-generation offspring. This movie is brimming with cultural relevance and competence within those walls. The family is full of love, traditional Cuban food, prideful machismo, shared heritage, traditional family values, and shared traumatic history that are woven into the story naturally.
The script by Matt Lopez (The Race to Witch Mountain) also folds in a modern update by switching tropes. Also, by playing with nontraditional gender roles, Lopez also places the issue of giving the daughter, Sofia (Emerald City’s Adria Arjona), away as an equal or secondary storyline. Why? Because the film begins with Billy (Garcia) and Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) getting a divorce. They already have their one daughter there, Cora (Instant Family’s Isabela Merced). The Herrera’s will tell the family at dinner when Sofia arrives. However, Sofia beats them to the punch — she now has a fiance, Adan (New Order’s Diego Boneta). A fellow lawyer wants to steal Sofia away, take her to Mexico, and work for a non-profit organization. There are some priceless lines along with a ton of heart, including Estefan, who shows her comedy chops here.
While this film has flaws, for instance, it is about 20 minutes too long, and SNL’s insanely talented Chloe Fineman can’t match Martin Short’s hurricane take of the wedding planner, Father of the Bride, is carried by the wonderful Garcia. He fits the arrogant but loveable father figure perfectly. Garcia has been a reliable performer for decades but has rarely had a chance to stretch his comic chop. He brings his expected depth to meaningful scenes and still oozes charm. But he brings the same bite to this comic turn in his dramatic roles. (Garcia though was a member of a comedy troupe at The Comedy Store in the 1970s).
Garcia’s performances in this all-new Father of the Bride are just as charming as he is.
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