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

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