FATHER OF THE BRIDE II is a surprisingly excellent and
touching comedy. The director (Charles Shyer), the writers (Nancy
Meyers and Charles Shyer), and all of the cast are back from FATHER OF
THE BRIDE (1991) which is in turn a remake of the 1950 movie of the
same name. Unlike the 1991 movie which is broadly written for maximum
laughs, the sequel is an even better movie that relies for its charm on
its poignancy although there are innumerable hilarious moments as well.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE II had me in tears twice. On the other hand,
I rolled over in laughter so loud in one scene that I scared the woman
in front of me. A very affecting and effective movie.
The setup of FATHER OF THE BRIDE II is a simple one. George
Banks (Steve Martin) and his wife Nina (Diane Keaton) are a happily
married couple. Although they have one kid, Matty (Kieran Culkin), in
middle school, their daughter Annie Banks (Kimberly Williams) is now
married and living a mile away with her new husband, Bryan MacKenzie
(George Newbern). One day the young couple invite both sets of
parents, the Banks and John (Peter Michael Goetz) and Joanna (Kate
McGregor-Stewart) MacKenzie, to the Banks's house for the big
announcement that they are expecting.
The reaction ranges from rapture to being stunned. As Matty puts
it, "I'm 4' 6", I don't shave, I don't have a job, and I'm going to be
an uncle. Isn't there something weird about that?" George flies into
a middle age panic, and he dies his beautiful flowing gray hair jet
black. He thinks he is too young to be a grandfather. He reminds us
that he is 31 days younger than Bill Clinton. After he dies his hair,
a beautiful blonde in a red Ferrari convertible makes a pass at him at
a red light, but he sheepishly points to his wedding ring.
One of the stars of the movie is the family home - a classic East
Coast style two story in a typical New England neighborhood full of
autumn trees which somehow manages to be located in Southern California
in this show. George decides to sell it reasoning, "We could sell this
house in a second. It's the Leave It to Beaver house everyone wants."
The sale of their home and its ramifications are both touching and
extremely funny. The writers will really surprise you with what they
do with this one.
Perhaps one of the reasons this movie works so well for me are all
of the similarities with my own life. George is my age almost to the
day. Like us, they are selling the house they have lived in for many
years, they have to vacate the house quickly, and their dishes, which
play a prominent role in the film, are exactly the same as ours. We
are even older parents with a young child (6 in our case). To be
honest though, I have had no problems with harassment by Ferraris.
The movie is filled with touching scenes. There is one of father
and daughter playing basketball. It is filmed as a series of
flashbacks starting at age 4. The cinematography (Elliot Davis) and
the editing (Stephen Rotter) are absolute perfection. Kimberly
Williams does a wonderful job as a role model of what every parent
hopes their children turn into - sweet, smart, good looking, happy, and
successful. The basketball scene forms a key part of her character's
development in the movie.
The twist in the story that makes it click is that George and Nina
find that they too are expecting a baby which pleases Nina but scares
George. While driving through town Nina sees idyllic families filmed
in sepia whereas George can only see families with little monsters. He
tells Nina, "together we're almost a hundred!" Eventually George tries
to put a good face on it all. He reassures Nina with "Just because
we're older doesn't mean we're old. It's the 90s.", and "Going to the
movies will be economical: one child and two seniors!"
The movie deals straightforwardly and effectively with many
serious subjects. The fear of your kids growing up and moving across
country is an emotional ones for most parents. Our only son is just
six, but is already planning on leaving and moving to Montana to be a
paleontologist when he grows up, which is as freighting to me as the
possibility of Annie moving away is to George.
The best part of the entire movie are the birthing scenes at the
end. Times of major emotion and uproarious laughter in the theater.
Throughout the show Steve Martin is at the top of his form. He can
deliver lines as well as facial expressions without speaking that
alternatively have you in stitches one minute and ready to cry the
next. A brilliant performance.
The rest of the cast is equally strong. Keaton, who can be too
cutesy or quirky, is carefully directed and delivers her warmest
performance since REDS. Martin Short again plays Franck Egglehoffer,
but in the sequel he is not so obnoxious. In this film, he does not go
overboard as he so frequently does, and gives the only lovable and
touching as well as comedic role I have ever seen him in. In a minor
but well cast role we have Jane Adams as Dr. Megan Eisenberg.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE II is a joy to behold. A life-affirming
film whose almost last line is "Life doesn't get much better than
FATHER OF THE BRIDE II runs a brisk 1:46. It is rated PG,
but it is a totally non-offensive show that should have been rated G.
There is no sex, nudity, violence, bad language, or smoking. You could
take a kid of any age, but given the story, I suspect it will only
interest kids over say 8. I recommend the movie to you strongly, and I
award it *** 1/2.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes