Director: Vincente Minnelli
Writer: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Edward Streeter(characters)
Cinematographer: John Alton
Producer: Pandro S. Berman
by Jon Cvack
The Father of the Bride (1991) remake opens in close up on a glass of champagne, playing a vibrant wedding score while the credits role. Steve Martin is George Banks, sitting in a post party bomb crater, with streamers, balloons, food and drinks covering the place. He addresses the camera and recounts the story of how his daughter got engaged a year or so after college, and the expensive wedding he had to put on. Watching the intro to this day I get sucked in, knowing I’m going to see a fantasy world where the hardest problems the characters face would provide the greatest day to so many others, with Steve Martin pulling off the paranoid, cheap, mildly narcissistic father with a heart of gold without a hiccup, knocking each scene out of the park.
I didn’t know that Father of the Bride was a remake until after college while going through director filmographies on Netflix. It was a good film, with Spencer Tracy as Stanley Banks, Joan Bennett as the mother Ellie Banks, and most interesting, Elizabeth Taylor as the newly engaged Kay (in that this isn’t necessarily the role you associate with Taylor). It’s a good film, with Spencer Tracy stealing the show, providing a strikingly similar tone as the Steve Martin’s remake. While it’s no surprise that the original black and white and far more tame original was overtaken by a Steve Martin and Diane Keaton remake, it is interesting that hardly anyone seems to even know the film is a remake, posing at least some precedent in defense of the endless remakes. Some are, in fact, better than the original. What’s more surprising is discovering that Father of the Bride Part 2 (1994) is also a remake, of the sequel to the original Father of the Bride called Father’s Little Dividend.
Father of the Bride Part 2 is a solid sequel. Not as good as the first, but an enjoyable watch. Father’s Little Dividend is a pretty good movie, though unfortunately I received one of those Westinghouse discs that looks like the DVD was made by someone filming a YouTube video with a VHS camera; it was one of the shittiest discs I’ve ever watched.
The film starts out similar to the Father of the Bride remake, with Stanley Banks in his chair, talking directly to camera about how within what seems like only months of the wedding, his daughter had gotten pregnant, thus entering into a flashback up to the moment where the previous film had just ended. The same cast is back, with Kay’s husband Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor), and his parents Doris (Billie Burke) and Herbert (Moroni Olsen).
The story follows both sets of parents and their attempt to dominate the conversation, from offering names to furnishing the bedroom to where he’d go to school, with Stanley leading a few heated debates, with Kay eventually exploding, turning to dad for help. Later, we get a scene actually seen in the first Father of the Bride, when Buckley and Kay get into a fight, and Buckley takes off in the middle of the night. Funny enough, in this film it’s about infidelity, and in the remake it’s about a blender, with her fiance Bryan MacKenzie recognizing why it’d be offensive given the modern discussion of gender stereotypes (or however he says it).
Eventually the baby is due to arrive, and while there’s a great set up in having Stanley Banks having taken a sleeping pill after not sleeping in expectation of the baby arriving over the last few weeks, instead they just have him sleep through the night, waking up to the delivered baby, later losing the kid when deciding to play soccer with some boys. It’s a strange last twenty minutes, and at a hair under 80 minutes, the film never feels like a fully actualized piece. Allegedly the film was being shot before the first Father of the Bride was released; so confident studios were that they had a megahit on their hands. And that’s kind of what the problem is. Aside from the thread of a daughter and father there’s no feel of a carefully or meticulously crafted movie (or at least an attempt) as the first one offered. It was a rushed job, feeling as though they were trying to think of as many scenarios as possible to include between parents and children and in-laws, and while some of the scenes work well, most of them feel under delivered. It’s a good film that’s worth checking out for any Father of the Bride or Spencer Tracy fans.
BELOW: Another example of a studio failing to renew the copyright so check out the film below
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