20 July 2012

Father of the Bride (starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams)

Back in 2007, I watched the original black-and-white version of 'Father of the Bride' on an aeroplane. I liked it very much, and a year or two ago looked for it on Amazon. I couldn't find a reasonable edition of the original DVD, but liked the sound of the 1991 update, particularly since it stars Steve Martin.

We finally sat down to watch it on our anniversary, which seemed like a suitable occasion. I gather that some purists don't like the updated version, feeling it's too different from the original (starring Spencer Tracy). I might have felt the same way if I had watched them within a few months of each other, but with nearly six years' gap I was able to enjoy this with only the most general idea of the storyline.

Steve Martin is, in my view, wonderful as the hapless father, who begins the movie - as in the original version - surveying the chaos that has ensued after his daughter's wedding. Then as he thinks back, the story moves to the time, some months previously, when Annie (Kimberly Williams) returned from college and announced that she had fallen in love...

It’s nicely done with plenty of modern updates. Martin's ideas of a simple wedding, once he finally accepts that it IS going to happen, are gradually eroded by Annie and also his long-suffering wife (Diane Keaton is excellent in the role). From the time they decide to take on a wedding organiser (brilliantly - and bizarrely - played by Martin short)he is reduced to counting the rapidly increasing costs, and giving up on any personal input.

I'm sure the details are very different from the original, but they work well in the context of the 1990s. There are some great choreographed scenes showing Steve Martin at his best. His son Matthew is nicely played by Kieran Culkin, and the family life is shown as strong and closely attached despite the father's obvious eccentricities. It felt warm and encouraging throughout.

There's lots of light humour, a great pace, and then the ending was every bit as moving as I remember the original version being.

Definitely recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

03 July 2012

Heidi [2005] (starring Emma Bolger and Max von Sydow)

I have loved the classic children’s story ‘Heidi’ for many years, so when I learned that there was a fairly recent film adaptation of the book, I thought I'd put it on my wishlist.

While I haven't read the book for many years now, my initial impression was that this 2005 version of 'Heidi' was pretty close to the original. Having said that, there were a few odd digressions - the 'Alm Uncle' being referred to as 'Uncle Alp', for one thing, and the goats' names being changed - both so minor as to seem rather pointless to have changed, although I'm not such a pedant as to worry over-much.

Still, the basic plot follows that of the book pretty well. Orphaned Heidi (Emma Bolger) is taken by her aunt to stay with her grumpy grandfather (Max von Sydow) when nobody else wants her. He isn't keen at first, but they grow to love each other, and Heidi makes friends with the goatherd Peter (Sam Friend).

Then, out of the blue, Heidi's aunt returns and snatches her away, to become a companion to the wealthy but disabled Clara. There, Heidi has her first taste of fine living, befriends people of all classes, and takes the fancy of Clara's grandmother...

The scenery is stunning at times, but the pace is a bit slow; it's not that I wanted to rush through the film, but there were times when almost nothing seemed to be happening. Moreoever, although the adults were well in character - I particularly liked Heidi's grandfather, and also the delightfully horrible Miss Rottenmeier (Geraldine Chaplin)- , we found the child actors disappointing. Peter was mostly believable, but Clara (Jessica Claridge) seemed rather twee and unreal, and Heidi herself, though believable in places, seemed over-done, with exaggerated yawns and tears at times, and little show of emotion in general. I wasn't worried by the faint Irish accent which came through, but it did seem rather incongruous.

Still, overall we thought this a likeable film which would probably be enjoyed by children of any age who have enjoyed the classic book.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews