Billy Herrera (Andy Garcia) is taken by surprise when his wife Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) announces that she wants a divorce during a marriage counselling session. Ingrid insists that they tell the family during an evening gathering but when their eldest daughter Sofia (Adria Arjona) reveals that she’s engaged, they decide to share their news at another time. Insistent on getting married quickly, Sofia brings her fiancé Adan (Diego Boneto) to meet the family and the couple clashes with Billy, who wants to shape the wedding with his own traditions. Things are further complicated when Adan’s family visits from Mexico, and they too have their own ideas about the upcoming wedding.
‘Father of the Bride’ is based on the 1949 novel of the same name, which has been twice made into a film previous; in 1950 with Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor, and in 1991 with Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short. When the project was first announced, there was a collective response of ‘do we need another remake of this story?’ and I’ll admit I was sceptical, but now having seen the film, I can confirm the answer is ‘yes actually, we do’. This iteration of ‘Father of the Bride’ may take inspiration from the novel and the same title, but it bears little resemblance other than the fact the central family has a daughter who is getting married – and that’s a good thing.
Writer Matt Lopez has updated ‘Father of the Bride’ and relocated the action to focus on a Cuban-American family who reside in Miami. The twist here is that the parents of the bride are going through a rocky patch and the main driver of the story is that Billy doesn’t want to tell anyone about the divorce whereas Ingrid has reached the end of her tether and just wants to share the news with the family. For me, this is the strongest part of the film thanks to the wonderful performances of Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan. Garcia is going through something of a career resurgence at the moment and his portrayal of Billy is fantastic. He’s suitably bolshy, proud and overbearing, providing a perfect contrast to Estefan’s heartfelt performance as Ingrid, the heart of the family and the emotional centrepiece of the film. The two have wonderful chemistry with Estefan in particular proving to be a big surprise.
The chaos of the wedding unfolds as you may expect. Sofia and Adan clash with the Herreras because they want to put traditions to one side and have a more modern wedding. That doesn’t sit well with Billy who offers to pay for the whole thing, mistakenly thinking that will give him full decision-making power. The arrival of Adan’s father Hernan (Pedro Damián), his step-mother Julieta (Macarena Achaga) and his mother Marcela (Laura Harring) from Mexico causes further clashes, and gives the film a chance to explore the differences that exist between Cuban-American and Mexican families. For too long the Latin community has been lumped together as a catch-all and it’s refreshing to see the differences that exist, perfectly highlighted in a scene where Marcela asks why everyone is speaking in English when their native language is Spanish.
‘Father of the Bride’ is bolstered by a bright and engaging ensemble cast. Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta are believable as the young couple in love and on the verge of marriage, while Isabela Merced makes an impression as the youngest daughter in the Herrera family, who is also battling against her father’s expectations for her life. ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Chloe Fineman brings the laughs as millennial wedding planner Natalie Vance and Pedro Damián proves to be a good foil for Garcia’s Billy.
While ‘Father of the Bride’ may not hit too many unfamiliar beats with its story, it will win you over with its effortless charm and huge heart. This is an interesting spin on a familiar story and it works really well. Thanks to a fantastic cast, an infectious soundtrack and an emotive storyline that will connect with audiences, ‘Father of the Bride’ is a real winner and yet another fine example of how the romantic comedy is making a much-needed comeback in 2022.
Cast: Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, Adria Arjona, Isabela Merced, Diego Boneta, Chloe Fineman, Pedro Damián, Laura Harring, Macarena Achaga Director: Gary Alazraki Writers: Matt Lopez (screenplay), Edward Streeter (novel) Certificate: 12 Duration: 117 mins Released by: Warner Bros. Pictures Release date: 20th June 2022