Judge Mike Rubino never wants to visit whatever country Franck is from.
"This was the moment I'd been dreading for the past six months. Well, actually for the past 22 years."—George Banks
For the past 20 years, Steve Martin has cornered the market on remakes of classic, sentimental family comedies. His prematurely-silver hair and consistent spurts of zaniness make him perfectly suited to play the ideal Hollywood dad. Case in point, his take on George Banks in the 1991 remake of Vincent Minnelli's 1950 film Father of the Bride. This classic wedding comedy, and its off-spring Father of the Bride: Part II—itself a remake of Minnelli's 1951 sequel Father's Little Dividend—are now out on Blu-ray in a double-pack.
Father of the Bride is a perfectly formulaic family comedy that hits just about every stereotype, plot point, and conflict one could factor into a wedding involving an uptight dad reluctant to let go. George (Martin) and Nina Banks (Diane Keaton, Annie Hall) reunite with their daughter, Annie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley, According to Jim), after she returns from studying for a semester in Italy. Much to George's chagrin, Annie announces she met someone over there, and they're getting married in six months. George, a conservative, protective and extremely cheap father, has to come to grips with the fact that his daughter is growing up and becoming her own person. The next few months are spent planning an extravagant wedding, meeting the groom's parents, and dealing with Franck (Martin Short, Three Amigos!), a caricature of a wedding planner of nondescript foreign origin.
The film's episodic nature, excessive narration, and sugary sweet sentimentality would almost be overbearing if it weren't for the outstanding cast. Steve Martin and Diane Keaton have the chemistry of a married couple without having spent 50 years together. Keaton always seems to make this stuff look effortless, whether she's hanging around Woody Allen or Jack Nicholson. Kimberly Williams-Paisley also turns in a good performance as the bright and bubbly Annie Banks, caught in a whirlwind of love and wedding planning. Her husband-to-be, Bryan (played by George Newbern, Adventures in Babysitting), is the perfect foil throughout all this. Bryan is well-intentioned and kind—and George Banks hates him for stealing away his daughter. Heck, even Martin Short's character, who milks mispronunciation jokes like it's his job, provides a good bit of comic relief in the simplest ways possible.
Suffice it to say, Father of the Bride is a great family comedy; touching, smart, relatable, and full of good performances.
Naturally, Touchstone Pictures would try and recapture that with a sequel a couple years later. Father of the Bride: Part II features the same cast, and almost the same plot…except this time, it's babies. Two, actually.
When Annie and Bryan call their families together for a special announcement, everyone pretty much assumes they are expecting. But when George hears the news, he's spirals into a mid-life crisis. He gets his hair colored, sells his house to Eugene Levy, and gets Nina pregnant. You can see where this is going: now George Banks has to take care of both his pregnant daughter and wife while, yet again, learning what life and love is all about.
Father of the Bride: Part II has its moments, and it hits all of the sentimentality buttons just fine, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the filmmakers were working too hard to achieve what the original did effortlessly. The jokes about George not getting along with the Bryan's family were repeats; the mid-life crisis stuff, triggered by the use of the word "grandpa," tosses aside George's established character for the sake of some funny bits; and Martin Short's return as Franck is no longer charming, to put it nicely. By the end of it, with conflicts and twists coming left and right (no matter how unbelievable and coincidentally-timed they may be), the movie crosses the finish line out of breath.
Touchstone has released both of these films in a three-disc Blu-ray 20th Anniversary Edition. Anyone expecting the bells and whistles of a major anniversary release should think again. The package contains three discs: a Blu-ray containing both films, and then individual DVD copies lifted right from the 15 year anniversary release. All of the special features, including commentary tracks for both movies and production featurettes are identical to past releases. It's as cheap as if George Banks himself had released it himself.
The Blu-ray upgrade of the films are as straight forward as they come. Both are "re-mastered" and given the 1.85:1/1080p high definition treatment, but don't appear to have been cleaned up at all. The transfer has plenty of grain which, in this case, doesn't detract from the film but shows an overall lack of polish. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix is also pretty standard. All the dialogue and music are balanced with nothing fancy going on in the rear channels. For whatever reason, the special features on the Blu-ray are only carried over for Father of the Bride and not the sequel (for those supplements, you'll have to pop in the DVD copy). Whatever you do, don't expect anything new here.
I hope by now you've seen Father of the Bride. Maybe you've caught it on TBS or owned a VHS copy during the Clinton Administration. It's a classic family comedy, and one of Steve Martin's most iconic roles (okay, it's no King Tut). Unfortunately, the Blu-ray release offers nothing new outside of a serviceable high-definition transfer and the ability to watch both movies without changing the disc. Maybe you should just watch the first movie twice.
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