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Movie Review

George Banks is a self-proclaimed worrier when it comes to his kids. He has always been a concerned parent "big on car seats, seat belts, bedtimes, curfews, calling when you get somewhere and never running with a sharp object." But beyond the anxiety, he treasures family moments and does his best to create new memories. And he feels an urgency now that his 22-year-old daughter is coming home from a semester studying architecture in Rome.

Annie's arrival proves to be more exciting than George and his wife, Nina, ever expected. Annie announces that she's getting married. She met her fiancé, Bryan MacKenzie, in Italy, and the two fell madly in love. Nina and little brother Matty are thrilled. George, on the other hand, can't imagine any guy being worthy of his daughter's affections, but especially some mystery man she met in Europe. "Just what does an 'independent communications consultant' do anyway?" George asks suspiciously, "Is that even a real job?"

While still wrestling with those fears, George is overwhelmed by the wedding plans—more specifically, the escalating cost of those plans. Franck, the overzealous wedding planner with an unintelligible accent, pushes all of George's buttons while dreaming up the most expensive wedding even imaginable. The Banks family can only hope that George pulls himself together in time to make his little girl's big day memorable for all the right reasons.

Positive Elements

George seems to value his family above all else, and has strong relationships with his wife and kids. When George hits bottom, he promises to be unselfish and more sensitive toward Annie's feelings. Annie and Nina forgive George for his sarcasm and preoccupation with how much the wedding is costing him. Conversely, Annie tries to appreciate the challenges Dad is facing. Young Matty cuts his father some slack when George apologizes for neglecting him amid all of the wedding chaos.

The first time George and Nina meet Bryan's parents, Mr. MacKenzie admits his own struggles with letting go of his son, noting (with the subtle air of Proverbs 22:6), "Sooner or later you just have to let your kids go and hope you brought 'em up right."

Nina calls George on his bad behavior, among other things reminding him how our nonverbal cues and expressions can communicate disrespect. Bryan is a decent, hard-working kid who loves Annie unselfishly, making it extra hard for George to dislike him.

Spiritual Content

Annie and Bryan have a traditional church wedding, with the reverend alluding to the "solemn vow" of "holy matrimony." Still, we hear no mention of God during the ceremony. A man does, however, exclaim, "Thank God snow is white!"

Sexual Content

Some passionate kissing. There are several disappointing allusions to premarital sex. George notes that boys are only interested in "one thing," admitting that he was guilty of hormonal myopia when he was younger. He makes a Freudian slip when he tells his daughter and her new fiancé, "Don't forget to fasten your condom—seatbelt, I meant seatbelt." Indeed, he and Nina seem resigned to the fact that Annie and Bryan are probably having sex since they did the same before their nuptials. Brian casually mentions having left his sneakers "in Annie's room last night."

Franck and his assistant come across as stereotypically effeminate.

Violent Content

None, though George is threatened by vicious guard dogs.

Crude or Profane Language

Annie uses "god" in an exclamatory manner several times.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Social drinking includes wine with dinner and congratulatory champagne toasts at the wedding reception. Brian brings George and Nina a bottle of bubbly. George takes Brian to a cocktail lounge where they bond over a drink. The wedding planners greet George, Nina and Annie with champagne.

Other Negative Elements

George makes questionable decisions when desperate or frustrated. He enlists young boys to help him park cars. He lands in jail for belligerent behavior in a supermarket. He plans to lie in order to cover for not inviting a friend to the reception.


Unlike many remakes, Steve Martin's Father of the Bride doesn't stray too far from Spencer Tracy's 1950 original—at least when it comes to the plot and characters. This version does, however, reflect societal changes, from gender roles to expectations of physical intimacy. But at the core of it all is a heartwarming comedy that rings true. It may even do a better job than the original of portraying the emotional struggles of a father reluctantly surrendering his daughter to marriage. Indeed, this is a delightful coming-of-age tale that focuses not only on the one reaching maturity, but also those who've helped her reach it.

I couldn't help but notice the contrast in how the two films were tagged for marketing purposes four decades apart. It may seem like a silly thing to compare, but sometimes a tagline says as much as the title. For example, the 1950 version used, "You're invited to a hilarious wedding!" and "The bride gets the thrills! Father gets the bills!" But I think the 1991 tags do a far better job of capturing the humanity and tender angst portrayed onscreen. They read, "Love is wonderful. Until it happens to your only daughter" and "Father of the Bride—a comedy about letting go."

For anyone who's ever weathered that season of life—or who anticipates it with a mix of misty longing and nightmarish dread—Father of the Bride feels as true now as when Spencer Tracy put on his top hat.

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Steve Martin as George Banks; Diane Keaton as Nina Banks; Kimberly Williams as Annie Banks; Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer; George Newbern as Bryan MacKenzie


Charles Shyer ( )


Touchstone Pictures



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Becky Kremm Bob Smithouser

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