Sunday, April 7, 2013

Movie Review: Father of the Bride (1991)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A great cast brings the laughs and tender moments to life
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Comedy for all
Great laughs and tender moments
It is light and fun

Hitch Yourself to This Heart Warming Comedy

George Banks (Steve Martin) has just heard the words every father dreads. His daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) has just announced that she's getting married to Bryan MacKenzie (George Newbern), a man she met while studying in Europe. While George's wife Nina (Diane Keaton) is thrilled by the news, George doesn't handle it well. After all, this means big changes happening in his life. And he doesn't cope well with change.

So, naturally, he handles this the way any dad would. He starts watching "America's Most Wanted" in case Bryan is on it. And when it comes to planning the wedding, his idea is cheap and informal, much to the women's dismay. Will he ever get with the program? And if he does, will he survive the big day?

This movie can pretty much be divided into two halves. In the first half, George tries to comes to grips with the fact that he is no longer the man in his daughter's life. During that phase, he tries to come up with a reason why Bryan isn't good enough for Annie. Or he tries to keep the costs down as low as possible. These are the scenes with the most humor. We've got a funny scene as George searches Bryan's parents' house. There is a great site gag as Annie first breaks the news. And we get some funny lines as Nina tries to get George to cooperate. Occasionally, these scenes border on embarrassing, but they always pull it back before it gets out of hand.

Once George comes to terms with the wedding, things turn tender. Don't get me wrong, there are still laughs, but it's much more heartwarming. There are some great moments here that show just how much this family loves each other. I'll freely admit that I choke up a little watching this half.

What holds these two halves together is the acting. Everyone is perfectly believable. Even scenes that are potentially over the top aren't because of the cast. Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams are perfect as the female leads. They are every mother and daughter. George Newbern makes the perfect fiancee; you wonder why George Banks can't see how great he is. Kieran Culkin (following in older brother Macaulay's footsteps) plays the Bank's young son who gets caught up in the excitement but doesn't quite see what the big deal is. But the real star is Steve Martin. He does the big comedy scenes and the quiet emotional moments without missing a beat. And his voiceover narration over the course of the movie ties everything together.

Of course, I'm leaving the scene stealers out of the above paragraph. Martin Short and B. D. Wong play two over the top wedding coordinators. And they do indeed steal every scene they are in. Martin Short especially is in top form here playing Franck with a thick accent that is hard to understand. Yet that makes his scenes even funnier as we watch George struggle to understand Franck.

Whether you've gone through a wedding or not, Father of the Bride will make you laugh and touch you. And what more could you want from a wedding, and movie, then that?

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