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Touchstone Home Video presents
George Banks: Well, the reason I'm asking all these questions is I have a great idea where we can have this lovely, not small, but not too big wedding.
DVD ReviewIt's a risky venture remaking a classic, but there is that rare occasion where a remake can find a life of its own and work with the original to show two different perspectives of the same basic story. Such is the case with the Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers remake of Vincente Minnelli's 1950 Father of the Bride. Made roughly 40 years after the original, Shyer and Meyers have found a nice balance between the original material and the comedic sensibilities of 1991.
Steve Martin fills the title role, taking over for Spencer Tracy as George Banks. The script begins with the exhausted father retelling the story of his daughter's wedding after having just suffered through the joyously grueling event. It's a nice move by the filmmakers to begin their movie this way, because it pays homage to the original (which begins the same way) but the dialogue is contemporary, featuring George's analysis of young men's sexual advancements, and ushers in the new tone for the whole movie.
The story is, more or less, the same as in the original. George's daughter, Annie (Kimberly Williams), returns home from studying in Rome to surprise him and his wife, Nina (Diane Keaton), with news of her engagement to Bryan MacKenzie (George Newbern). While the rest of the family is surprised and glad to hear Annie's news, George freaks out and does what he can to discourage Annie from marrying Bryan. Despite Bryan being the most lovable and perfect man in the world, coming from a wealthy Bel-Air family, George is suspicious of the MacKenzies.
The movie wisely incorporates Steve Martin's talents as a physical comedian, featuring some hilarious scenes as George finds himself trapped in ludicrous predicaments of his own making. It would be impossible for Martin to replicate Spencer Tracy's performance, so it is a wise move by all involved to morph the character into a slightly more slapstick figure. At times the humor may go over the top, such as when George freaks out in a grocery story over hot dog buns, but it still manages to keep a human touch thanks to Martin's performance, and the jokes rarely fall flat.
What truly cements this incarnation of Father of the Bride as its own movie, though, is the inclusion of Franck Eggelhoffer (Martin Short), a character that adds a new dimension to the movie that the 1950 version is lacking. Considering how extravagant weddings are currently, the decision to introduce a wedding coordinator and take numerous jabs at the preposterous elaborations and outrageous costs is a nice touch by the screenwriters, making the general story more engaging for contemporary audiences. Martin Short's performance is a scene-stealer, as his Franck speaks in broken English with an accent so thick that George cannot understand a word he is saying.
What I like most, however, about this remake is how it balances the new additions like Franck with the style of the original. The camerawork is reminiscent of those classic Hollywood comedies, from the framing of an actor's close-ups to the way director Charles Shyer shoots driving scenes. Shyer and his co-writer, Meyers, have made a pleasant movie that does not surpass the original, but is a fine supplement to it.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B
Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen transfer is a soothing visual experience. Detail is strong and colors are suitable to the movie's style. Some shots look a bit more aged than others, but it isn't distracting. There's a nice sense of depth in the image that works to create a film-like look. Nicely done.
Image Transfer Grade: A-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix is not very dynamic, but there are enough instances of sound separation across the front sound stage to keep it interesting. The rear-channel is kicked in for the score and other musical cues, but stays fairly inactive apart from that. It isn't an engrossing mix, but it compliments the visual image nicely. There also is a Dolby Digital 5.1 French mix available.
Audio Transfer Grade: B+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Herbie: Fully Loaded, The Pacifier DVD & Video, Home Improvement: The Complete Second Season DVD
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Charles Shyer
Layers Switch: 00h:49m:11s
Supplemental material pertaining to the movie begins with the 1991 promotional featurette An Invitation to Father of the Bride (10m:35s). Featuring interviews from the set and some behind-the-scenes footage, this amounts to little more than a publicity tool to encourage audiences to see the movie. A better special feature, though, is Martin & Short Interview Each Other (05m:14s). Steve Martin and Martin Short makes jokes about the production that caused me to crack up a few times.
The final feature is a feature-length commentary by director Charles Shyer. He warns at the beginning that he hasn't watched the movie in 13 years and that he might not remember much, but he pulls through fairly well. Some of his commentary is little more than a narration of what's happening on the screen, but primarily he has some interesting anecdotes about working with the actors and the process involved in updating the classic.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsA funny remake of an equally funny classic, Father of the Bride: 15th Anniversary Special Edition is worth the double dip thanks to an aesthetically pleasing anamorphic transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Extras are pretty scarce, but what is included rounds out the package nicely.
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