Remakes will always be a dime-a-dozen tradition for Hollywood. Who would’ve thought there would be three different generations of the same movie spanning 70 years later? Most properties, but still? Here we have a brand new Father of the Bride, now streaming on HBO Max. This is another adaptation of Edward Streeter’s best-selling novel if the title doesn’t sound familiar. The original 1950 version starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor set the mark. However, those my age are probably more aware of the 1991 remake with Steve Martin and Diane Keaton. I actually watched that and its sequel for the first time two years ago and generally enjoyed both of them. Nothing remarkable, but they’re charming comedies, no less. This time, it’s a new shade on the familiar story with a Cuban-American family getting caught up in typical wedding hijinks.
Directed by Gary Alazraki (Nosotros los Nobles) and written by Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), Billy Herrera (Andy Garcia) is a hard-working architect who came from nothing when he immigrated from Cuba to Miami to start a new life. However, it doesn’t seem perfect now since he and his wife Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) have been attending therapy to where they’ve decided to get a divorce since their marriage isn’t what it used to be. They plan to tell the family over dinner when their eldest daughter Sofia (Adria Arjona), a lawyer from New York, is visiting home. When they thought it was time to break their announcement, Sofia shares the exciting news that she’s engaged to a man named Adan Castillo (Diego Boneta) she met at work as a fellow lawyer. Unfortunately, Billy doesn’t share the same amusement as everyone else once he learns they planned to get married within one month before moving to Mexico, where Adan is from.
I forgot this was coming out since I thought Disney was also doing a remake at some point, but I guess what isn’t happening anymore. That said, if you’ve already seen any of the other takes on the story, this doesn’t try to be any different, and maybe that’s why this new version of Father of the Bride was just okay in my eyes. Wedding comedies usually go the same way where it will be a challenge throughout the timeline, but know it will lead to something extraordinary. Sure, it’s in here, but I wasn’t feeling the heart I would generally see with this type of story. The difference is right out of the gate where marriage counseling for Billy and Ingrid and now you know it’s a couple faking their love for their daughter until the wedding. But we all know how that will turn out.
The beats are what we’ve seen before, where the father is worried about being away from his little girl and feeling like it’s a rushed decision. He isn’t already fond of Adan because of his soft-spoken nature and the fact he thinks he’ll make a living working for a non-profit business. All the while making choices for the wedding itself that doesn’t include having a Catholic service or not keeping with traditions. As Billy wants a huge ceremony, Sofia and Adan really want something smaller. And when it gets to him letting the groom or at least the groom’s wealthy father, Hernan (Pedro Damian), it won’t be easy wanting to do the wedding a certain style. It was a good idea to center on Cuban-Americans and the culture clashing in terms of mixing languages and having a passionate pride for their country.
Andy Garcia is what you would expect for playing a father out of touch where everyone knows he came from nothing (cue eye rolls) and wants the best for everybody despite some actions that can make him the wet blanket during this. And any dad who watches this will automatically understand what Garcia’s Billy is going through in this wedding process. He wasn’t a character I thought fully progressed to make me care about him. The chemistry he shares on-screen with Gloria Estefan was fine, though I guess I wanted more development of their crumbling marriage. Estefan’s performance keeps the movie alive as the more appealing parent of the two, being the no-nonsense wife.
I’ve always liked Arjona, and you’re completely on her side. This might be one of her better roles that isn’t wasted in a terrible movie (Morbius). However, any scene with her and Boneta never clicked with me, as their romantic chemistry was dry. The one character I knew would stand out was Natalie (Saturday Night Live‘s Chloe Fineman), the wedding planner/ Instagram influencer trying to pull off a modern wedding as opposed to Billy’s standard traditions. I wouldn’t say it’s similar to Martin Short’s over-the-top character Franck from before, but as a fan of hers for the past couple of years, it’s great to see her get a significant role. And what a shame Isabela Merced’s character Cora, the youngest daughter, was thinly written since there’s not much to her besides being an aspiring fashion designer.
Lopez’s script, of course, isn’t remarkable. Yet, the humor doesn’t hit as most of the dialogue was underwhelming with the flat delivery of certain lines. The balance of humor and dramatic beats for its pivotal moments were a must and still couldn’t make me fully engaged since I knew they were coming. But if you want laughs, there’s some obvious green screen I noticed right away during a celebration on Hernan’s yacht. Still, Terence Blanchard’s jazzy score sounds refreshing, and Alazraki as a filmmaker is passable enough to where it unexpectedly takes on this one long tracking shot near the end, which impressed me. As a whole, I already knew it would not be shocking and I wondered why this was nearing two hours.
Overall, Father of the Bride has its heart in the right place when recreating the formula, but it’s ultimately a remake very predictable and forgettable by the end. Even though it’s streaming and if this was in theaters, it would’ve suited likely as a high rental. Though I can see why everyone else will enjoy it more.
Father of the Bride was released on June 16, 2022 and is only on HBO Max. Runtime: 117 Minutes. Rated PG-13 for brief suggestive material. Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures.