The world has changed quite a bit since 1991 when Father of the Bride was in theaters. Revisiting the movie after all these years, it feels a bit like revisiting a film that’s much older; like the original Spencer Tracy film from 1950 perhaps. The wedding between Bryan MacKenzie and Annie Banks seemed so outrageous twenty years ago, and now it seems a little quaint with their limited local resources. But luckily the charm still hasn’t aged a day, and neither has the comedy.
In Father of the Bride, recent architectural graduate Annie Banks (Kimberly Williams) returns from a summer in Rome and announces her engagement to Bryan MacKenzie. Her mother, Nina (Diane Keaton), is ecstatic about the news, but her father, George (Steve Martin), is horrified. His little girl can’t be old enough to get married, she’s just a kid! The news sends George into a panic, and he immediately begins questioning anything that Bryan says or does; he’s even leery about Bryan’s parents and their posh home in Bel Air. Nothing is good enough for his little girl.
George learns quickly how expensive a wedding can be when Annie hires Franck Egglehoffer (Martin Short) to be the wedding planner. The cost of everything – including swans for the front yard – is spiraling out of control, and in turn, so does George’s sanity. George’s meltdown eventually lands him in jail, and he is bailed out by Nina on one condition: that he stops trying to ruin his daughter’s wedding.
The wedding day comes with its own challenges, the biggest of which is that in all the hustle and bustle of the day, George doesn’t get to see Annie off on her honeymoon.
In Father of the Bride 2, Annie and Bryan have been married for about a year when they announce that they are pregnant. The news that he will soon become a grandfather sends George into another tailspin; only this time instead of getting thrown in jail, he sells his house on a whim. George quickly snaps back to reality when he and Nina discover that they are pregnant too. George is soon caught up in baby fever; he even hires Franck to throw a double baby shower for his two favorite girls.
The real drama starts when Bryan goes on a business trip to Tokyo when his baby is due (who DOES that?!) and wouldn’t you know it? Annie goes into labor while he’s gone. As they arrive at the hospital, Nina goes into labor too. George and Franck are left to tend to both of the ladies, shenanigans ensue, and the amazing Jane Adams (HBO’s Hung) shows up for a brief yet important role as Dr. Megan, the woman who delivers the babies.
It’s crazy to watch a movie from 20 years ago and reminisce. Of course the fashion is going to be different, but aside from that. There are no cell phones – George regularly takes phone calls on the manufacturing floor of his shoe factory. There is one car phone (CAR PHONE!), and the joke is that it’s nearly impossible to make out what the caller is saying. George and Nina make their way to Bryan’s parents’ house by way of directions scrawled on a piece of paper.
TV also never makes an appearance in the film. The Banks family bonding time takes place at the dinner table or on their driveway playing basketball. And bonding they do. George’s flashbacks of little Annie are some of the most memorable moments in the movies, and it’s evident that the two have a very special relationship. These moments are charming enough to make you want to turn off technology and spend time with your kids, the same way our parents did before technology took over.
As for the performances, this is the perfect time to introduce your kids to Steve Martin, if they’re not already familiar. He’s at his comedic finest when he’s frustrated, and both of the Father of the Bride movies give him plenty of opportunities to showcase his perfect timing. Martin Short is memorable as Franck as well, in one of his best roles since Ed Grimley. As a young girl in the early 90’s, I grew up thinking Kimberly Williams (now Kimberly Williams-Paisley) was the most beautiful girl in the world. Now I see her more as Steve Martin does: as a wide-eyed kid who I have to trust to do the right thing with her life.
Remember that wedding? The giant long sleeved lace dress with the long veil; the overblown reception at the Banks house where they have to re-paint walls to match decorations; the swans; the food; the sheer size of the thing. It’s so outlandish and even more so for the early ’90s. Nowadays this kind of thing happens more often than not.
Remember the baby’s room? The Banks hire Franck to redecorate and they end up taking off the walls and re-doing the entire room from scratch – even including a fireplace for the “Baby Suite”. Another thing that happens more and more. I wonder if Father of the Bride is to blame for bringing these trends to the masses.
Father of the Bride 1 and 2 might not be the most technically well done movies ever, or the most well written. But they are both heartwarming, clean, and genuinely funny family fun with good actors. How often does that happen?
The Blu-ray is perfect looking, with a clean video transfer and great audio. The extras on this new edition are a bit lacking, but feature some cool stuff. The DVD of Father of the Bride 2 has a funny commentary with Steve Martin and Martin Short, and a fun behind the scenes production featurette. The DVD of Father of the Bride has an interactive invitation to Father of the Bride, Martin Short and Steve Martin interviewing each other, and a commentary with writer/director Charles Shyer. The Blu-ray has both feature films, as well as the same features on the Father of the Bride DVD.
Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride 2 are just wonderful reminders of how simple things were in the early 90′s, before society started becoming so internet and technology dependent. It’s nostalgia at its best, and definitely worth a revisit.
Touchstone/Disney presents Father of the Bride 20th Anniversary Edition – Two Movie Collection. Directed by: Charles Shyer. Starring: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, Kieran Culkin, Martin Short. Written by: Frances Goodrich, Charles Shyer, Nancy Myers, Albert Hackett. Running time: Father of the Bride – 105 minutes; Father of the Bride 2 – 106 minutes. Rating: PG. Released: May 15, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.