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Film / Father of the Bride (1991)

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Father of the Bride is a 1991 comedy film directed by Charles Shyer. It is a remake of a 1950 film of the same title.

Steve Martin and Diane Keaton star as George and Nina Banks (no, not THAT George Banks), whose daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) is about to get married to Bryan MacKenzie (George Newbern). While her rather skinflint Bumbling Dad nearly has an aneurysm about the costs of the wedding, he realises slowly that Annie has grown up and is leaving him.

The film also features Kieran Culkin, Martin Short, and B.D. Wong.

Followed by the 1995 sequel Father of the Bride Part II (loosely based on the original film's 1951 sequel Father's Little Dividend), in which Annie gets pregnant, triggering a mid-life crisis in George that ultimately ends up getting Nina pregnant too.

In 2020, the cast reunited to film a mini-sequel called Father of the Bride Part 3 (ish). The plot concerns George and Nina's now fully grown son Matty getting married over a Zoom call during the COVID-19 pandemic. Steve Martin, Martin Short and Kieran Culkin reunited for a "Part 8" spoof on Saturday Night Live in 2022.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Elderly Mother: In Part II, George is worried enough that his daughter is having a baby, but after mishaps like selling the house, now he's getting more stressed that his wife Nina, who thought that she was entering menopause, is also pregnant.
  • Always a Child to Parent:
    • When Annie tells her parents she is engaged, a shocked George briefly sees her as a little girl, pigtails and all. Cue him trying to talk her out of it.
    • He has the same thoughts about Matty in Part 3-ish but he is a lot more onboard with the actual marriage (as he's known Matty's fiancée for 6 years) but still sees Matt as his little boy.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Franck Egglehoffer and assistant Howard Weinstein are both foppish and campy. They enjoy the wedding prep as much as the brides themselves.
  • Artifact Title: In the sequel, George's daughter is already married and thus he's no longer the "father of the bride".
  • Babies Make Everything Better: Averted at first in Part II; Nina reacts badly when George jokes around at them being parents at their age and Annie reacts badly when she learns she and her mother will be pregnant at the same time. Then it's played straight once they actually give birth.
  • Birthday Buddies: Megan and her nephew George.
  • Bumbling Dad: Both George and Bryan's dad, John, stumble through the wedding and pregnancy without much idea of what to do.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!/Law of Inverse Fertility: Nina in Part II, who thought she was going through menopause.
  • The Cameo: Eugene Levy (of SCTV and American Pie fame) plays the wedding singer in the first film and an Arabic real estate mogul in the sequel. Also in the sequel is noted game-show producer Jay Wolpert, as a doctor.
  • The Chew Toy: It's impressive how much pain George goes through.
  • Comedic Sociopathy : A lot of somewhat cruel sequences in this film are just played for laughs, like the pool sequence in the first film and the scene with the house being demolished in Part II.
  • Cool Car: George's sports car, an 1962 Austin-Healey 3000 BT7 MkII Roadster, which gets him a little attention in Part II. Also, Annie and Bryan's car, which was a wedding present from his parents.
  • Covering Up Your Gray: George learning that he's going to be a grandfather rattles him badly, and one of the things he tries to do to recapture his youth is have his hair dyed brown to, as he requests to the hairdresser, "look young". He's pleased with the results, and the hairdresser, who's very clearly aware of what's going on, humors him by calling it "bitchin'".
  • Daddy's Girl: Annie, and it is implied at the end of Part II that Megan will fill that role once Annie leaves for Boston. In the first film, we even see Annie as she appears to her dad, a cute little girl in pigtails.
    • This quote from the beginning of the first film sums up this trope:
    George: You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in a way you could never imagine. I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine. How she used to sit in my lap and lean her head against my chest. She said that I was her hero.
  • Don't You Like It?: Brian gives Annie a blender — she breaks off the engagement.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Annie's wedding gown is a Pimped-Out Dress with lots of skirt and plenty of lace. Though she decides to forgo the High Heel Hurt of typical wedding shoes and wears a lacy pair of sneakers that George had made for her at his sneaker factory.
  • Framing Device: Both movies start out in the present day before flashing back over several months, then catching up to the present.
  • Funny Foreigner: Roger Ebert described Franck's accent as "part central European and part nasal congestion". The "nasal congestion" part could also go well for his assistant, Howard Weinstein.
  • Happily Married: Whilst George and Nina have the occasional fight they make up very quickly. George actually realises Bryan and Annie are perfect for each other due to the similarity between their relationship and his with Nina. In "Part II" when George has a mid-life crisis Nina worries he's going to leave her for a younger woman, which he immediately reassures her never entered his mind.note 
  • How We Got Here: The first movie begins after the wedding is over, then backtracks five months when "the storm broke". The second one begins with George sitting in his living room, and again backtracked over several months. Once the story is concluded, we realize he's been telling us all this while waiting for Bryan and Annie to arrive before they move cross-country.
  • Instant Sedation: In Part II, towards the back end of both Annie and Nina's pregnancies George can't sleep as he's so worried about them going into labor. Franck gives him some experimental sleeping pills called "Vasnik" and doesn't explain that only half a pill is needed. George takes two and immediately passes out at the dinner table.
  • Like Parent, Like Child: George realises over the course of the movie that Annie takes after him, especially his habit of over-reacting. He explains to Brian that this is a family quirk that George and Annie share with George's mother and grandfather.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Brian is stated to be the sensible one in Annie and Brian's relationship, just like Nina is in George and Nina's.
  • Love at First Sight: It is strongly implied that this is what happened with Annie and Bryan because Annie's story of how they met is very short.
  • Making Room for Baby: One of the objections George has to Annie and Bryan having a baby is he thinks their house is too small, everyone else think he's being silly. Then, just as George sells his house to downsize to a condo by the sea Nina finds out she's pregnant - which is one of the reasons George buys his old bigger house back and then decides to add an extension for the new baby.
  • Maternity Crisis: Two in "Part II" one played for comedy, the other for drama -
    • Comedy: First Annie's waters break just after George takes some experimental sleeping pills Franck gave him, which have knocked him out cold - so the family & Franck have to scramble to get to the hospital as well as take the barely-conscious George with them.
    • Drama: Nina goes into labor on the same night when she's supposed to be accompanying Annie. Annie's pregnancy is going smoothly but Nina's looks more precarious as the baby's heart rate keeps dropping and she has to go in for an emergency c-section.
  • Mythology Gag: The ugly wedding present that nobody likes—the Venus de Milo clock—is the same one that was used in the 1950 film for the same joke.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The sequel is titled Father of the Bride Part II, but no one's getting married.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: A slight case with George, as despite Brian being a dream of a son-in-law, a few lines from George in the sequel indicates that he inexplicably still dislikes him.
  • Only Sane Man: George flirts with this at points in the first movie, as the wedding plans grow increasingly elaborate and expensive. He definitely sees himself as this, at any rate.
  • Opening Monologue: George follows this into his role as the Character Narrator.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: This is how George reacts when Annie announced her engagement.
  • Practically Different Generations: The Banks Kids with eldest Annie as a college graduate and middle child Matty in 2nd grade for Part 1, and newborn Megan in Part 2.
  • Remake Cameo: Tom Irish, who plays the bride's brother in the 1950 movie, appears in this one as a guest at the wedding.
  • She Is All Grown Up: George hadn't realized Annie grown up until she announced her engagement. He still sees her as a little girl with her hair in pigtails. Him coming to terms with this fact is part of the movie's conflict.
    • He gets hit with this again in the sequel, when Annie's pregnancy forces him to realize this once and for all.
  • Shout-Out: The clock that Annie is given that looks like Michelangelo's David was also a gift in the original film.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: This is what Annie thinks Bryan expects of her in their marriage when he gives her a blender as a wedding present. In truth he was thinking more along the lines of "one of us might want to blend something at some point in the future". It's also at the crux of a fight they have in the sequel went Annie is offered a job in Boston as lead architect on a big project and Bryan doesn't want to move away from the couples support network with a new baby but Annie thinks he wants her to give up a big career opportunity.
  • Tacky Tuxedo: As George learns to his chagrin, Armani doesn't make a navy tux. His old tux from 1975 also counts as it has a ruffled shirt, is too short in the leg, and also rips whilst George tries to show one of the wedding planning team how to open his French windows.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Megan is the same age as her nephew. In part 3-ish she refers to "Georgie" as her birthday-twin.
  • Time-Compression Montage: There's two of these in the first movie. The first one shows the months leading up to the wedding and the second one shows a much longer period of time where Annie is growing up.


 
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Take It Easy There, Pops

George Banks learning he is about to become a Grandfather for the first time kick starts him into a mid-life crisis. One of the first things he does is tries unsuccessfully to work out at a gym, surrounded by much fitter, younger people.

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