It's really hard to feel too terribly sorry for the uptight George Banks (Steve Martin) when he bitches and moans about the ever-rising costs of his daughter's wedding in Father of the Bride. After all, he lives in overstuffed opulence in a Pasadena mini-mansion, runs his own company, drives an antique sports car, has a perfect and gainfully employed wife (Diane Keaton), and two perfect kids (Kimberly Williams and Kieran Culkin). Is the wedding cake outrageously expensive? Get over it, George.
In fact, that's what wife Nina (Keaton) spends most of the movie saying. And that's what you'll be saying, too, as George whines about having to buy a tuxedo, mopes about the disruption to the house, disapproves of the perfect young man (George Newbern) who has deflowered his daughter, and gets all frantic about meeting his future in-laws (who are even richer than he is). What's really happening, of course, is that George simply doesn't want his daughter to grow up, and his way of raging against life's forward progression is to get cranky about the upcoming wedding day. How do we know? Because George tells us in his self-pitying narration. This is the kind of movie that has plenty of both show and tell.
To be fair, the wedding is indeed spinning somewhat out of control because Nina and daughter have decided to hire Franck (Martin Short), California's toniest wedding planner, to arrange the whole thing. Along with his able assistant Howard Weinstein (B. D. Wong putting on a funny Long Island accent), Franck goes into overdrive, explaining everything in a hilariously unintelligible Eastern European accent that renders "cake" as "kak" and "George Banks" as "Jobunk." George hates Franck on sight but lets him take over. Soon George is reduced to little more than a writer of checks. Martin and Short work well together, but Short has no problem stealing the movie from Martin with his rapid-fire patter.
The wedding turns out to be lovely although George ends up spending most of the reception moving the cars that are illegally parked outside his house. The movie's biggest dramatic question: Will George get to dance with the bride before she's whisked away to her honeymoon?
Father of the Bride is the lightest of light comedies, a harmless little movie that probably didn't need four writers and eight assorted producers given that it's a remake. The 1950 original, starring Spencer Tracy and a drop-dead gorgeous 18-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, has a lot more heart and a lot less Hollywood sheen. At least the new Father of the Bride is better than its sequel (yes, a sequel to a remake), in which both Nina and daughter get pregnant at the same time, a most improbable turn of events, and one that turns nervous George into a mass of quivering jelly.
The new 15th Anniversary Edition DVD includes commentary from director Charles Shyer, plus a quirky interview between Short and Martin.