This Father of the Bride suffers from the same disease that afflicted the previous two versions: We’ll call it the First World Grumpies. That means we spend most of this movie watching a mopey millionaire bellyache about writing checks. Andy Garcia’s titular father pouts and throws toddler-sized tantrums, replete with saliva-soaked volleys of angry Spanish. Clearly, we’re supposed to pity this grouchy rich man, but I didn’t much care. If your biggest worry is how many flamingoes and cases of Mezcal you’ll need for your daughter’s wedding, I’ll go ahead and suggest that things could be worse.
As for the story, if you’ve seen either the Spencer Tracy or Steve Martin takes on Edward Steener’s novel, you’re pretty much set. The main difference will be obvious if you’ve seen the poster or trailers: Director Gaz Alazraki gives this Father of the Bride a decidedly Hispanic feel. This time, Garcia plays Billy, the self-made architect who saves the most glorious house for himself. Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) is his level-headed, long-suffering wife. As the film begins, they’re a year deep into couple’s therapy. Ingrid’s sick of his neglect and billowing ego. Billy’s too obtuse to see her points. At the latest session, she finally asks for a divorce.
This marital rift gets put on hold with a visit from their oldest daughter. Sofia (Adria Arjona) is a successful lawyer in New York City, and she’s come home with news that will shock no one in the audience: She’s getting married! In a month! To a guy nobody in the family has met! Whoopty-doo. Of course, Billy goes straight into Archie Bunker Mode. Who is this bum? How’s he gonna provide for my daughter? As will be his custom, Billy ruins the moment, storming off to play dominoes with his buddies.
The movie also holds with tradition by making Sofia’s guy just so gosh-darn likable. Adan (Diego Boneta) is good-looking, personable, and well-educated. He’s also kind, sensitive, and supportive. You know, basically a unicorn. This makes Billy’s boiling contempt for him seem even nuttier.
Stories like Father of the Bride are built around forgone conclusions. Unfortunately, even the journey from here to there is pretty predictable: Sofia and Adan’s love is the real deal, and they belong together. Naturally, Billy’s huffing and puffing will create sitcom shenanigans to keep them apart until the movie hits its final act. There isn’t one surprise in the whole film, and your enjoyment will depend on how much patience you have for its tired ol’ formula.
If Bride has a saving grace, it’s the lead performances. Garcia’s an old pro, and he brings real oomph to an otherwise flimsy role. His Billy is proud and stubborn to the point of arrogance, but we never doubt the good man buried underneath. Estefan gets perfectly cast as the voice of reason, although her main function is roll her eyes and glower at Garcia. As the bride, Arjona gives a welcome shot of energy to an underwritten part. (That goes ditto for Isabela Merced, who plays Cora, the younger, more Bohemian daughter.) Chloe Fineman and Casey Thomas do what they can as the wacky wedding planners, but Martin Short and B.D. Wong’s scene-stealing magic from the Martin version can’t be replicated.
In the end, this new Father of the Bride wastes a lot of time getting where we know it needs to go. These frothy rom-coms are built to send their characters into the sunset, but 118 minutes is a punishing runtime for such a thin and obvious story. Maybe with some tighter editing and punchier writing, this could’ve been the definitive take on the material. We did a podcast on the Martin version, and I was shocked how much it had soured over the years. It’s tiresome to see rich people working through their First World Grumpies. Hell, it made me grumpy. Despite a lively new cast, this Bride ends up making the same old mistakes.
118 minutes. PG-13. HBOMax.
To read my review of the Steve Martin version, click here!
To listen to our Cinemavino podcast of the same film, click here!