Father of the Bride (June 8/05)
It's easy enough to imagine certain viewers rolling their eyes throughout Father of the Bride, as the movie is almost relentlessly sentimental. Then again, the movie does mark one of the final collaborations between husband-and-wife filmmaking team Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers, the same couple responsible for several decidedly non-cynical flicks including The Parent Trap and Baby Boom. As a result, it doesn't come as much of a surprise that Father of the Bride is dripping with sentiment - yet the movie is so well made and well acted, it's hard to imagine it being done any other way.
Father of the Bride is based on the Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor film of the same name, and follows well-to-do businessman George Banks (Steve Martin) as he attempts to deal with his daughter's upcoming nuptials. Amidst the preparations and hoopla surrounding the wedding, George must come to terms with the fact that his beloved daughter Annie (played by Kimberly Williams) is getting married and moving out.
While Father of the Bride is consistently entertaining, there's no denying that certain sections of the film are far more effective than others (which doesn't come as much of a surprise, given the relatively plotless nature of the proceedings). This is particularly true of a half-hour stretch that comes after Annie's initial announcement, which feels somewhat repetitive and needless.
Fortunately, the introduction of Martin Short's Franck - the enthusiastic but virtually incoherent wedding planner retained by the Banks' - at around the 40-minute mark acts as an energy-booster for the film, something that lasts for the remainder of Father of the Bride's running time. But as effective as Short is, it's Martin who provides the movie with its enduring heart and soul; though he's played plenty of fathers before, George Banks remains one of the most compelling and endearing patriarchs in his oeuvre (topped only by Parenthood's Gil Buckman). It's one of Martin's very best performances, and it's remarkable just how much the actor can say using only his body language (George's wordless reaction to hearing that his daughter is getting married is certainly a highlight).
Father of the Bride is a charming, engaging little movie that's elevated by some top-notch acting and a few genuinely heartwarming moments. Consequently, it's not difficult to see why the film has endured since it's release or why a sequel was commissioned just a few years later.