A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Steve Martin's comic antics make this remake a sweet confection of a movie. Still, parents should know that this movie mythologizes the high-cost, over-the-top wedding as though it were a requirement for all -- the wedding industry does a fine job of that on its own. Martin Short's flamboyant character is funny, but an unfortunate gay stereotype at the same time.
What's the story?
In this remake of Vincent Minnelli's 1950 film (which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy), 22-year-old Annie (Kimberly Williams) comes home from a semester abroad and shocks her parents with the news that she met a wonderful guy and they're engaged. As in the original film, dad George (Steve Martin) has a hard time dealing with the fact that his little girl has grown up. He thinks she's too young to marry, even when his wife Nina (Diane Keaton) reminds him that by age 21 she'd married him and was pregnant with Annie. George puts his future son-in-law to the test to make sure he's good enough, but the main focus of this 1991 remake is the wedding. Over-the-top wedding planner Franck (Martin Short) is hired, and, as the event becomes bigger by the day, George's bank account shrinks.
Is it any good?
Father of the Bride spins a pretty web of nuptial fantasy, though it makes you wonder if such frenzied consumerism is really what weddings are about. That said, there's a lot to like, especially its warm, witty star, Steve Martin, who makes a great dad: he's prickly but loving, a real softie at heart. Diane Keaton has little to do here but smile through tears; her role has been usurped by Martin Short's Frank, the wedding planner whose bizarre accent makes each of his suggestions hilarious. The scenes between Frank and George are superb, and they more than make up for the overly sweet sentiment elsewhere.
Also to its credit, this film manages to capture the love (often unspoken) between a young woman and her father. As George wrestles with the fact that his little girl, who saw him as her hero, is leaving him forever, he experiences emotions that most parents and children will relate to. And in a welcome update of the original movie, Annie has to offer than just a pretty face: she's pursuing a career in architecture, and she can play a mean game of one-on-one.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Steve Martin's character acts up the way he does. Why is it hard to let go when family members change? Also, do you think a wedding should cost that much? It may be helpful to explain to kids what big business the wedding industry really is. Do you think the father, per tradition here, should be the one footing the bill?
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