Following in the footsteps of Spencer Tracy (1950) and Steve Martin (1991), Andy Garcia stars in the latest “Father of the Bride” film, streaming on HBO Max. The movie follows the familiar story with fresh twists brought to the movie by the Cuban Herrera family and the looming divorce of the father and mother of the bride.
After a brief opening narration of their family history by Guillermo “Billy” Herrera (Andy Garcia), he and his wife Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) are seen at relationship counseling. Unable to reconcile Ingrid’s hopes with Billy’s unwavering traditions and work schedule, Ingrid declares she wants a divorce and forces Billy to comply. They plan to break the news to their daughters Cora (Isabela Merced) and Sofia “Sofi” (Adria Arjona) at dinner that night. However, when Sofi announces her surprise engagement to fellow lawyer Adán Castillo (Diego Boneta), Billy and Ingrid decide to delay the announcement until after the wedding.
Throughout the movie, Billy confronts his views on masculinity and what will make a man a strong husband. As a rigid, traditional man, Billy has difficulty accepting Adán, who is sweet and sensitive. He scoffs when Adán talks about yoga and drinks tea rather than coffee. He comes to realize that the way Adán and Sofi have developed an equal partnership and Adán’s softness are strengths rather than weaknesses. He also grows to admire the respect Adán has for women, as seen by Adán’s determination to support Sofi even when she overpowers him. Billy begins to wish that he had reflected this in his own marriage. It is not just the costumes that are updated to fit a contemporary setting, “Father of the Bride” reflects how modern marriage has been reshaped since 1991.
The movie also recognizes how vastly weddings have been reshaped in recent years. Billy also has a difficult time accepting Sofi’s wishes for a simple yet nontraditional wedding. He chokes when she says she doesn’t want a wedding in a church with a priest but instead with a zen guide. His desire for a large family wedding at a hotel clashes with Sofi’s desire for an intimate, unique setting instead. Billy must learn to stand up for the traditions vital to him while not remaining too rigid. After seeing his life fall apart after living by the book, Billy is forced to question where he could become more flexible and what traditions truly matter.
The infusion of their Cuban family brought a refreshing take to this classic story. The setting in Miami also provided a fun spin with the Biltmore hotel, yachts, and club scenes. While the plot follows familiar beats and styling, the characters take on unique personalities. The threat of the Herrera parents’ divorce also created new interest in the plot. Fans of the older versions will enjoy this refresh while the film remains enjoyable for those who have not seen the others. “Father of the Bride” stands as a great movie on its own but uses the familiar tropes of its predecessors well.
“Father of the Bride” is available to stream on HBO Max.
By Ella Hachee