Father Of The Bride

Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett starred in the original 1950 classic comedy, scripted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from a novel by Edward Streeter and directed by Vincente Minnelli. This sad little 1991 remake stars Steve Martin and Diane Keaton under the direction of Baby Boom’s Charles Shyer, with a script by Shyer and Nancy Meyers that borrows liberally from the original. The main problem here is the gross inferiority of the new version to the old: compare Tracy’s handling of the opening monologue with Martin’s and you’ll get a fair indication of what’s become of commercial filmmaking over the past four decades. The more challenging elements of the original (e.g., the father’s highly upsetting nightmare) have been pared away, and most of the laughs come less from the material than from the outsize grimaces that Martin superimposes on his part; none of the characters register with any believability beyond the sitcom minimum, and Diane Keaton’s discomfort with her role is painful to watch. With Kimberly Williams as the bride and Martin Short working overtime as an Italian wedding consultant who doesn’t seem especially Italian. (JR)

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