Many consistently clamor for originality these days, and it’s with good reason. So often do billion-dollar franchises from big studios cloud our attention as viewers. It’s refreshing when something different steps up to give us a change of pace. While remakes aren’t always the salvation we’re looking for, it’s particularly sweeter when they’re just right.
Father of the Bride is a 2022 romantic comedy film directed by Gaz Alazraki and written by Matt López. It’s based on the 1949 novel of the same name by Edward Streeter. Previous adaptations of the story include the 1950 film starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, and Elizabeth Taylor. Then it was adapted once more in 1991, starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kimberly Williams, Martin Short, and BD Wong.
This time around the film centers around a Cuban-American family. With the tagline “love is simple, family is not,” you go into the film expecting chaos and shenanigans. Billy Herrera (Andy Garcia) comes to grips with his daughter Sofía Herrera’s (Adria Arjona) upcoming wedding through the prism of multiple relationships within a big mixture of cultures.
Right before Sofía comes back home to visit her family, we find Billy and Ingrid Herrera (Gloria Estefan) in therapy. The session ends with Ingrid stating that she wants a divorce. They both decide to immediately tell the family the news of their split. That is quickly derailed when Sofía announces that she is engaged to a fellow lawyer named Adán Castillo (Diego Boneta).
The mix of cultures is the most celebrated part of Father of the Bride. As opposed to what one might expect going into the film, it never exaggerates Latinidad for the sake of creating a spectacle in order to draw attention. So often Latines in media are turned into caricatures of themselves to appease audiences. Instead of the film pursuing antics for the sake of it, there is a grounded nature to the narrative. Many of the problems are understandable and the conflict is palpable.
Considering the possible divorce from his long-time partner, Billy feels he’s losing everything he cherishes. He worries about ending up alone, but his pride stands in the way. This then ultimately turns the family against him. There’s also the added complication of Billy Herrera hiding the news of their divorce, especially from his eldest daughter, despite wanting comfort during this time.
The main point of conflict in the film is that the father of the bride clearly disapproves of the engagement. This then forces the entire ensemble into uncomfortable situations. A lot of this is due to Adán being a different kind of Latino man. He’s soft-spoken, respectful, and not really into sports. He doesn’t give in to the machismo that so often is embedded into the DNA of Latin men. A part of that seems to scare Billy. Even Adán’s own father Hernán Castillo (Pedro Damián) comments on it. He claims he doesn’t know where he went wrong in raising his son. By the end of Billy’s journey, he reassures Hernán that he’s actually done a good job.
In addition, the film features a delicious long take in the third act that was able to stir up a lot of emotions. After things don’t quite go as planned, the two families are able to make the most out of an uneventful hijinx to truly create some magic. That’s what it’s all about. It’s a mixture of Cuban and Mexican culture with Miami as a backdrop. Father of the Bride ultimately treats the characters as people that just so happen to have Latine roots. There’s an emphasis on what makes them unique and differentiates them, but it also highlights how they can meet in the middle and merge without clashing. It’s a celebration of the variety within Latin America, avoiding the tendency to turn Latine culture into a one-size-fits-all monolith.
Father of the Bride is now available to stream on HBO Max.