I have a soft spot for Steve Martin’s ‘Father of the Bride’ (1991). There, I said it!

“Hey…Pussycat, pussycat, I love you…Indeed I do…Yes I do! Hey, what do you think? Bought it in ’75 and it still fits.” – George Banks.

Wedding movies are often a family affair where we see comical situations about the lead up to the big day. Usually the story is told from the parents or bride’s perspective and often it’s set up with obstacle that might thwart a brides perfect wedding day. Interfering parents are always the perfect foil, who seemingly struggle to come to terms with the idea that their daughter has all but grown up. One of the biggest hurdles is an overprotective father who believes no one is good enough for his daughter. At times parents also believe they still know what’s best for their child and that rushing into marriage can be for all the wrong reasons.

The original version of Father of the Bride starring Spencer Tracy, Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Bennett was critically well received and a hit for MGM studios in 1950. Forty years later, Disney who required the remake rights, had similar success with their reboot in 1991. The formula for the ’91 remake of course remained largely the same as the original with screenwriters Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer tweaking it for modern audience. While many still prefer the old Hollywood version, there is still a lot to like (if not more) about the beloved Charles Shyer directed remake, starring Steve Martin as George Banks, as a father who is not entirely pleased by the prospect of losing his little girl. He is even less pleased when he finds himself having to foot the bill of his daughter’s dream wedding.

“I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. A boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say “I do.” I was wrong. That’s getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition. I know. I’ve just been through one. Not my own. My daughter’s. Annie Banks-MacKenzie. That’s her married name. MacKenzie. I’ll be honest with you. When I bought this house seventeen years ago, it cost me less than this blessed event in which Annie Banks became Annie Banks-MacKenzie. I’m told that one day I’ll look back on all this with great affection and nostalgia. I hope so.” – George Banks


With lots of laughs, the likeable Steve Martin is very convincing as an over-protective father, who reminds all fathers how precious our time is with our children, especially when daughters grow up and you are no longer their hero. In George’s case, when his daughter Annie announces she is getting married, he sees the new guy, Mr. Right as a cause to panic. Fearing he will lose his daughter, George attempts to sabotage his daughter’s happiness, but soon comes to realise it’s not about him. It is here that George agrees reluctantly to do whatever it takes. “If you love him so much, I know I’ll love him too”. Of course, it doesn’t mean he’ll entirely play along fairly, looking for any shortcut to keep wedding costs down with his less is more theory. Two great scenes come to mind. The first is when George suggests the family’s favourite restaurant, a rib joint called The Steak Pit as a good place for Annie’s wedding reception, and the second is when cheapskate George makes his way to the attic to get his old tuxedo out of mothballs, which no longer fits him, but is still determined to try and make it work.


The entire supporting cast led by Diane Keaton as George’s wife are great. Keaton as Nina Banks in particular does her best to try and keep George in line, especially after he has a melt down in the supermarket over hot dogs and buns and ends up in jail. Worthy of a mention is also Martin Short as the eccentric wedding planner, Franck Eggelhofer and his assistant B.D. Wong (of Law And Order SVU fame), who absolutely drive George insane with their exorbitant wedding costs at $250 a head! It’s fair to say many of the best scenes involve Steve Martin and Martin Short and their incredible banter. They first hit it off and became good friendship during the making of Three Amigos in 1986. Then when the opportunity presented itself for Martin and Short to reunite onscreen, Father of the Bride provided plenty of fertile ground for them to take more hilarious jabs at each other.

Franck : Uh-oh, I bring the wrong color thread. I assumed you’d be wearing a black “tuxado.”

George : It is a black “tuxado.”

Franck : I don’t think so, babe. This tux is “nuffy” blue. No doubt about it.

George : What’re you talking about? Armani doesn’t make a blue tuxedo.

Franck : Armani don’t also make “polyaster.”

The most heartwarming scenes are between Martin and his daughter Annie, played by Kimberley Williams. The love shared between father and daughter is peppered throughout the film, especially in the film’s memorable basketball scene with The Temptations My Girl as its soundtrack. In this scene George suggests they shoot a little one-on-one like the good old days to make amends for his poor behaviour moments earlier after receiving the news his ‘little girl’ was engaged to be married. Here the two rekindle their father-daughter bond in a way they had done all of Annie’s life. It honesty pulls out every melodramatic stop to tug at your heartstrings.

Equally heartfelt is how George is reduced to being a bystander in his own home at his daughters elaborate reception. He looks on in amazement, unable to catch her in a quiet dad-daughter moment and when Annie leaves for the airport with her husband Brian without saying goodbye, George is visibly disappointed. But at the airport in the next to last scene Annie calls him: “Our plane’s about to take off, but I couldn’t leave without saying good-bye. Thank Mom for everything, okay? And Dad? I love you. I love you very much.”

Even after all these years Father of the Bride never gets old. It’s one of those heartwarming romcom classics where everything works in spite of all the wedding tropes it throws at us. In my own life, I am approaching the age where my own daughters may one day choose to get married. I wonder how I might react to the news. Hopefully better than George. But George in a way speaks to all fathers, especially when he says to himself at the wedding ceremony, “I suddenly realized what was happening: Annie was all grown up and leaving us. Something inside began to hurt.”

Rating: 9/10.


Photo credit: The movie still images from the film father of the Bride (1991) is courtesy of Paramount Pictures and Disney Studios. I make use of the images under the rational of fair use. It enables me to makes an important contribution to the reader’s understanding of the article, which could not practically be communicated by words alone.

2 comments on “I have a soft spot for Steve Martin’s ‘Father of the Bride’ (1991). There, I said it!

  1. It is indeed v sweet, with lovely chemistry between Martin and Keaton. I think their charm anchors the film.

  2. I like Steve Martin and think he’s a funny guy. BTW, he’s also a pretty good banjo player! I watched that movie, though it’s been many years!

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