Movie #18 2022: Father of the Bride (1991)

Quite clearly, I was too often at dance classes to watch any movies in the nineties. There are many so-called classics that I missed out on due to that (for example, I only saw 3 Men and a Baby last year). Do I regret those dance classes? Absolutely not. If anything, it only gives me more chance now to catch up on movies that probably would have gone right over my head at such a young age anyway.

Father of the Bride stars nineties legend Steve Martin as the titular father, who is an ordinary middle-class man with a wife (Diane Keaton) and two kids (Kimberley Williams-Paisley and Kieran Culkin). Upon his daughter’s return from a study year in Rome, Martin’s George Banks sees his worst nightmare come true: she has met a man… and they are engaged. Hesitant at first, George turns all of his efforts towards creating the perfect wedding for his eldest, but when several elements of the event planning go awry, he goes rather insane.

Firstly, I’m seeing my Dad next week and that basketball scene made me all the more excited 🤩. There are very few things like a father/daughter relationship, and for the most part, this movie expresses that idea adequately.

As you’d expect, some of this has not aged particularly well, but – in a surprising turn for the early nineties – it’s not overly detrimental to the overall movie. Sadly, that might just be because there’s not much in the way of a storyline here. It’s basically about a father letting his daughter leave the family home with a bunch of wedding planning thrown in. Steve Martin is just about the only thing that gives Father of the Bride a comedic edge, so you can thank him from preventing it from being wholly boring. 

Don’t get me wrong though, the rest of the cast hold some merit. Diane Keaton is utterly fabulous as usual… even if they did put her in a skirt once or twice. (That was the most surprising thing about this film, to be honest.) Martin Short only adds to fun, and a young Kieran Culkin is brilliant as the kid brother. It’s true that this is an excellent cast… but even they can’t elevate this movie to anything more than average, try as they might. 

For the nostalgia alone, I can see why Father of the Bride is so fondly remembered and often considered a classic. However, although there are a few memorable moments, I can’t see this one lasting in my memory for very long. It’s sweet enough but so simplistic, and the depiction of the father/daughter relationship is a little archaic at times, albeit being in line with attitudes at the time. Nevertheless, the sentiment is there and it means no harm… At least, I think it doesn’t.

I don’t know, this was just one of those films that I liked but didn’t love. What I did love though was the nineties aesthetic of the whole thing, and the soundtrack was pretty great too. Good, classic comedy, but it doesn’t hold a candle to other films of this era.

Father of the Bride is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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