The problem with remakes is that they often don’t reimagine stories to justify their existence. With the slew of remakes that have come out in recent years, I’ve found myself asking “why make this?” after nearly all of them. So, I went into Father of the Bride with these low expectations, especially being well, a remake of a remake of an adaptation of a novel. But this film is so much more than I thought it would be.
Directed by Gary Alazraki, written by Matt Lopez, and staring Latin Hollywood royalty, Father of the Bride takes the concept of the film with which it shares its name and creates a story so deeply rooted in Latino familial dynamics and traditions that it becomes something completely new.
In the film, long-married couple Billy (Andy Garcia) and Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) are surprised when their eldest daughter Sofia (Adria Arjona) comes home to Miami. Extremely successful and with two offers from different law firms, she’s the light of her father’s eye. But the surprises just keep coming when she announces a new boyfriend, Adan (Diego Boneta) who they had no idea existed before the family dinner is well, her fiancé and they plan for a quick-turnaround wedding so they can start a new life together in Mexico, where Adan’s family is from. But with one marriage about to start, Billy and Ingrid can’t really make the announcement that theirs is ending.
Despite being opposed to the wedding, Billy is swayed by embracing the tradition that he, the father of the bride will do everything to make this wedding exactly as he wants it to be. A prominent architect and family man, Billy feels his hard-fought success and dedication to his Cuban heritage earn him the right to call the shots.
But his stance as the patriarch is pushed directly by Adan’s father Hernan (Pedro Damián), who soon arrives with his own Mexican traditions and family pride in tow. What started as a daughter being pushed by her father to see traditions his way ends up with both iron-willed fathers vying to take charge of the nuptials through games of one-upmanships.
A lot is happening in Father of the Bride and all of it is recognizable. The first element of the film that I’m so deeply happy to report is that it doesn’t paint a pan-Latin picture of culture. Instead, we see Billy use his Cuban identity while Hernán wields his Mexican one. When so much of Hollywood aims to flatten Latinidad into one experience, this film doesn’t. Instead, it highlights the differences in music, food, and experiences. But it also gets some commonalities like a particular brand of machismo and also the immediate need to invite every cousin, tío, and friend of the family to show off your child getting married even if your kid has no idea who they are.
While we get overbearing fathers, we also get children who push back where they can, setting boundaries for their parents and setting the stage for life together even if it is only in the third act. A lot of the time film is a conversation across generations with Billy using his immigration story as a tool to get his way and guilt his children into doing as he says. And as someone who was constantly reminded that my grandparents earned 20 cents a day in the fields and didn’t get passed first grade, I felt every one of those moments in my soul. Additionally, the film uses Spanish to highlight differences in cultures and also showcases how it’s spoken at homes across the United States by families who have been here for a long time.
All that said the smartest thing that Father of the Bride does is keep family at the center. It’s something to grapple with and set boundaries with, but it’s not the toxic portrayal or passing down of trauma we’ve seen in other familial stories we’ve seen recently. Instead, we get to see the differences in generations, how they miss each other, ad how they can ultimately meet in the middle too. Most striking is how Sofia knows exactly how to talk to her father, across a domino table.
While the story and how it centers on culture is well done, Father of the Bride is striking because of its cast, primarily the iconic Andy Garcia. He’s loving and learning in a way that is both stubborn and vulnerable. True, he lets machismo drive selfishness but he ultimately can let down the walls he’s built to understand his daughters and learns that putting his family first means letting them choose their own path.
Overall, Father of the Bride is what remakes should be. It takes the core of the original film and runs with it as far as it can to capture a Latino wedding planning experience in all of its highs and its lows. Sure, there are some oddly paced moments, and the film isn’t perfection, but it is a slice of life that I want to see more of in media. There is something beautiful happening in this film. It’s like watching my family in all of its eccentricities on screen and the cast propels these moments with camp, energy, and a whole lot of love.
Father of the Bride is available to stream on HBOMax June 16, 2022.
Father of the Bride
Father of the Bride is what remakes should be. It takes the core of the original film and runs with it as far as it can to capture a Latino wedding planning experience in all of its highs and its lows. Sure, there are some oddly paced moments, and the film isn’t perfection, but it is a slice of life that I want to see more of in media.
Kate Sánchez is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of But Why Tho? A Geek Community. There, she coordinates film, television, anime, and manga coverage. Kate is also a freelance journalist writing features on video games, anime, and film. Her focus as a critic is championing animation and international films and television series for inclusion in awards cycles.