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Father of the Bride: A surprisingly innovative, smart update of a rom-com classic – Stuff

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Father of the Bride (PG, 113mins) Directed by Gary Alazraki ****
Following in the footsteps of Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin, Andy Garcia is the eponymous patriarch in this surprisingly entertaining, innovative and smart modern update of Edward Streeter’s 1949 novel.
A man who helped bring Cuba to Coconut Grove, Billy Herrera is proud of the way he built himself up from a poor immigrant to highly successful Miami architect and ensured his two daughters have never wanted for anything.
“But if I did everything right, how did I end up here?” he opines, while trapped in another “couples therapy” session with his increasingly irate wife Ingird (a glorious Gloria Estefan).
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“He’s a stubborn old man, stuck in a rut and takes me for granted,” she grouses, adding that he seemingly prefers to watch The Fishing Channel to making plans to travel the world with her.
After 12 months and seemingly little progress in their counselling, Ingrid has finally had enough.
“You’re not going to change – and I’m tired of trying,” she unleashes, determined that they should come clean to their family at this weekend’s gathering celebrating the return home of their New York-based eldest child Sofia (Adria Arjona).
However, their progeny has more pressing news of her own. Not only has she met someone, but they’re planning to trade their well-paid legal positions in for employment at a non-profit in Mexico. But before they relocate, there’s the small matter of a wedding (after she proposed) – an “intimate, small” affair they believe they can pull together in just four weeks.
Already reeling from Ingrid’s announcement and young daughter Cora’s (Isabela Merced) preference to eschew higher education in favour of starting her own clothing business, Billy is determined to at least try and retain some degree of control over the impending nuptials.
However, although he insists on writing the cheques, it isn’t long before relations between himself and Sofia become strained, as he tries to dictate the venue and the guest list and dissuade her from her proposed new life.
“You’re just the father of the bride,” she reminds him, “I’m going to walk down the aisle and marry that man – whether you’re beside me – or not.”
Like Disney’s sassy Latinx-infused reimagining of French farce The Valet last month, this is as much of a celebration of Cuban and Mexican culture and traditions as it is a traditional Hollywood rom-com.
It might hit all the same narrative beats as the 1950 and 1991 versions, but director Gary Alazraki’s (Mexican footballing dramedy series Club de Cuervos) story very much dances to its own rhythms (of the night – and day).
Although both Arjona (Irma Vep) and Merced (Dora and the Lost City of Gold) deliver sparky performances, it’s the flailing relationship between Garcia and Estefan that really compels. The latter reminds us of what an under-rated actor the former Music of the Heart star is, while Garcia produces his most nuanced and multi-faceted performance in years, as he comes to realise that he simply stopped being his wife’s “accomplice and friend”.
It’s a sensitive, vulnerable, revelatory turn in what is a joyous, but also surprisingly thought-provoking tale, one that, as a wedding dramedy, is probably closer to modern French classic C’est La Vie, than its Hollywood namesakes.
Father of the Bride is now screening on Neon.
© 2022 Stuff Limited

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She has spent the past eight years playing the role of an infrastructure consultant, and has now joined Inferse.com as a full time blogger. Her current profession is a result of her deep interest in computer gadgets, laptops, gaming accessories and other tech happenings.