Wedding Planner

Latin specificity makes this remake feel like an original

Revamped with a Latino cast, the 2022 iteration of “Father of the Bride” exploits the generational and cultural divide between immigrants and their children to put a spin on this romantic comedy premise 30 years after the release of the previous version starring starred Steve Martin and Diane Keaton (and 72 years after Spencer Tracy walked Elizabeth Taylor down the aisle).

With a new gravitas, this venerable property serves as an excellent vehicle for veteran Cuban-born actor Andy Garcia to savor a starring role that feels tailor-made for him.

It is Mexican filmmaker Gaz Alazraki’s first feature film since his 2013 mega-hit “We Are the Nobles” (“Nosotros los Nobles”) broke box office records in his home country. Alazraki went on to create Netflix’s first Spanish-language episodic series, the soccer comedy “Club de Cuervos.” Screenwriter Matt Lopez is an American-born Latino, and the director, a Mexican national who is making headway in Hollywood, makes this reboot surprisingly insightful both in the experiences it portrays and in its depiction of distinct subsets of life. ‘a community so often painted with a broad brush.

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Traditional in his views on marriage and the work ethic, the “self-taught” patriarch of the Herrera family, Billy (Garcia) often pontificates about the difficulties he faced as a Cuban exile to achieve his current status. of a leading architect. He designed the Coral Gables home where he and his wife Ingrid (Gloria Estefan) raised their daughters Sofia (Adria Arjona, daughter of famed Guatemalan musician Ricardo Arjona) and Cora (Isabela Merced, “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” ).

Billy cherishes ancient rituals that highlight his fatherly role in the lives of his children and as the head of the family. But in his tunnel vision of how things should work, at home and in the office, he lost sight of why he worked so diligently in the first place. As Ingrid informs him that she wants a divorce, tired of his dismissive and workaholic behavior, Sofia visits them to announce that she is marrying a Mexican and moving with him to his country. The parents agree to keep their separation a secret until after the wedding.

Diego Boneta (Netflix “Luis Miguel: The Series”) plays Adan, the soon-to-be son-in-law who doesn’t fit the rugged and stoic standards of masculinity that Billy upholds. And so begins an uphill battle between Sofia and Billy over how many guests, where, and who will foot the bill. During the ordeal, Garcia goes through a range of behaviors that give Billy a tough personality. First uncompromisingly proud, then angry at being reviled, melancholy and sad, and finally letting his vulnerability show, Garcia always plays the right tone to make the humor, mostly at his character’s expense, work.

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In this struggle between outdated views and modernity, the film stumbles into many millennial cliches, including dietary restrictions, political correctness, and a brief altercation over the contested, gender-neutral term “Latinx.” Parodying Instagram-obsessed influencers, “SNL” star Chloe Fineman wears one of the most hilarious supporting roles as an over-the-top wedding planner, filling Martin Short’s utterly insensitive shoes.

Tensions rise when Billy meets Adan’s father, Hernan (Pedro Damián), a wealthier, cooler man with a wife decades his junior and a toddler. With every stand Sofia takes against her will, Billy sees his relevance decimated. There are inevitably formulaic elements that push the plot forward in a direction that guarantees Billy a defined and poignant character arc, coming to terms with how his stubborn desire for control affects others before finally opening a path for him to redemption on all fronts.

Yet while we absolutely know the outcome, this take delivers its message of understanding and personal growth in a way that will speak strongly to those who both appreciate the sacrifices of their immigrant parents and are weighed down by the wait. to honor this gift professionally without deviating. of the status quo. While Sofia has always done well with her dad — until now — budding fashion designer Cora exemplifies the struggle of those first-generation Americans pursuing non-traditional careers that their stability-minded loved ones can’t fully understand. .

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Halfway through, as the two families meet, the Mexican parents wonder why, if everyone is fluent in Spanish, they communicate in English. Billy de Garcia goes on to explain the difficulty of preserving his language and culture for the next generation, the more they assimilate into American society. The unexpected revealing speech cleverly notes the distinction between the lived experience of people in Latin America and that of their compatriots who migrate to forge a life in a new country raising bicultural children in a multicultural society.

“Father of the Bride” deserves praise for not reinforcing Hollywood’s homogenous Latino culture, instead emphasizing the distinctions between the Cuban and Mexican sides – albeit with very blunt tropes about music and food – without losing sight of the deep similarities. However, aside from the presence of Afro-Latin reggaeton star Ozuna, the representation of Latinos here remains racially uniform, an issue that Latino creators must address.

Stylistically, what stands out is the care with which Alazraki and cinematographer Igor Jadue-Lillo (“Four Good Days”) ensure their sunny Miami locations are appreciated on screen, even if sometimes excessively. Postcard-worthy vistas of Calle Ocho and Ocean Drive float across the screen to Terence Blanchard’s jazzy score. This nurtured sense of place ties into the narrative of the third act, when the city’s propensity for bad weather from the Caribbean adds drama.

For their reimagining of “Father of the Bride,” Alazraki and Lopez manage to make it feel so rooted in the Latino context of their characters that comparison to older films doesn’t seem so apt. This one stands on its own.

Perhaps even more significant in today’s divisive climate than ever before is the notion of allowing people from previous generations the grace to acclimate to the societal changes taking place rather than immediately ostracizing them. Most of us, Latinos or otherwise, know a parent with similarly rigid worldviews, often not out of malice but out of circumstance. Placing Garcia and Estefan, both pioneering Latinos in entertainment in this country, in a project where they are the stars and not the supporting cast of the younger cast goes some way towards that.

“Father of the Bride” premieres Thursday on HBO Max.