New from Peter Spedale on Be Movie See Movie: Movie Review: Father of the Bride (2022)

Some concepts never age. Dads are always gonna worry about their daughters growing up and getting married. That was true in 1949, when The Father of the Bride book was released. And its also true in Coral Gables Florida in 2022. There’s just something about a wedding that’s ripe for wonderful family drama, and this 2022 iteration of Father of the Bride shows how we will never tire of watching movies about planning weddings, uptight dads, and family entertainment.

Before we meeting their daughter Sofia (Adria Arjona), we get a glimpse at the romance of Cuban couple Billy (Andy Garcia) and Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) Herrera. What was a whirlwind of love and promise has fallen on hard times; Ingrid wants a divorce. At dinner, before Billy and Ingrid have a chance to tell their daughters Sofia (just arrived from New York) and Cora (Isabela Merced), Sofia jumps in and lets the family know she’s just gotten engaged to Adan Castillo (Diego Boneta), of Mexican descent. Sofia and Adan have plans to move to Mexico in 2 months, so they plan on getting married 1 month from this dinner, frantically driving Billy, Ingrid, the rest of the Herrera and Castillo families, and wedding planner Natalie Vance (Chloe Fineman) into high gear trying to deliver the perfect wedding.

With a story built around a character seeped in tradition, the 2022 version of Father of the Bride surprisingly isn’t. The subtle updates to the script remove most of the cringey elements of earlier versions of this story to make for a more chill fun moviegoing experience. Since we’ve now seen two versions of white people getting married in the other Father of the Brides, a Cuban/Mexican wedding provides some new material to mine for comedy and drama. Billy and Adan’s father Hernan (Pedro Damian) have their own cultural traditions they want to keep, manufacturing seemingly endless awkward interfamily interactions to the delight of the audience. The sneaky MVP of the modernizations is making both the Herrera and Castillo families rich. That choice essentially strips away any of those ultra old “monetary transaction” wedding stereotypes in favor of a giant, gorgeous two hour party on superyachts and in beautiful Miami homes, as good of a travelogue as Crazy Rich Asians was. But the best change is the character of Sofia. In this one she’s a take no prisoners badass of a lawyer. She knows what she wants, and more importantly, is completely financially secure, eliminating any gender biased stereotypes about her relationship with Adan. This allows the whole wedding to revolve around love and its ability to endure crazy situations, making a nice character parallel between Sofia and her mother/father.

Because all other worries are covered, this Father of the Bride is boiled down to the core theme of the story: the give and take between honoring the past and accepting the future. Billy is not a bad guy; he just 100% believes that his path in life is how you get to success and happiness. It’s hard not to see his point: he’s well respected at work, has a great home, and a loving family. That blind belief in his way of living though has strained his relationships, especially Ingrid and Cora, who carry themselves differently. So when the divorce bomb drops and his “perfect” Sofia starts carving her own path, you feel Billy’s loss of control and his fledgling, stubborn attempts to get it back the traditional way he knows how: asserting masculine dominance. But as expected, Cora, Sofia, Adan, and Ingrid open Billy’s eyes to other possibilities to live life, and (as the writers smartly establish) through his therapy sessions how Billy is projecting himself onto his kids. While the wedding thankfully doesn’t solve all of the Herrera family problems, it does show how the most important tradition is to love and care for your family, a wonderful message right before what I must say was a kickass reception!

So bring on the Jarabe! Bring on the Rumba! Father of the Bride wants you to have a fun Miami time getting to know some awesome people, young and old, learning a few old tricks, a few new ones, and get to dancing and eating the night away. Plus, if Miami/Atlanta (where the movie was shot) isn’t using clips of this movie in their YouTube travelogues, they are making an egregious mistake.

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