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Father of the Bride review – slick comedy remake piles on the charm

Andy Garcia joins Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin as the latest stubborn dad reluctantly taking his daughter up the aisle in a mostly likable Latino update The earnest, mid-budget studio comedy gets another gentle jolt back to life this week with HBO Max’s sleek remake of Father of the Bride, a mostly charming throwback to a time of big music, big speeches and big kitchens. It’s a story told twice before, once in 1950 by Vincente Minnelli with help from Spencer Tracy and then decades later with Nancy Meyers ushering Steve Martin, but it’s a dynamic we’ve seen far more times than that, the over-protective father struggling to let his beloved daughter go, especially when she’s heading all the way up the aisle. It’s such a familiar set-up that our minds instantly go to sitcom territory – dad with wagging finger, daughter with hands on hips – and so to its credit, Mexican director Gary Alazraki’s straight-to-streaming redo manages to feel bigger than that, not just because it looks like a splashy theatrical release but because in dragging the oft-told story into the 2020s, he finds a way to make it feel specific and culturally expansive. Together with screenwriter Matt Lopez, he’s shifted the traditionally Wasp-y tale into more diverse, and dramatically interesting, territory with a Cuban-American family at its centre. El Padre de la Novia as it’s also known centres on Billy (Andy Garcia), an exile who worked his way up from nothing to become a successful architect in Miami with his devoted wife Ingrid (an extremely rare acting role for Gloria Estefan) at his side. But decades in, their marriage has soured and when their daughter Sofia (Morbius star Adria Arjona) comes home from law school, they decide to reveal their divorce to the family. Before they can, they’re surprised by some even bigger news, Sofia is getting married and intends to do so in just four weeks. Continue reading...

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