If you’re the dad of a daughter, or a daughter yourself, it’s likely that Father of the Bride is a movie you’ve seen, re-seen, cried to, have been comforted by, or cheered to. A remake of the famous 1950 classic, which starred Spencer Tracy as the father and Elizabeth Taylor as the bride, the 1991 version really exceeds the demure moniker of “remake” and has become a classic in its own right. A big reason for this? Steve Martin, the quintessential dad of our day.
We love Steve Martin as the every-dad. In movies like Father of the Bride, but also in the Cheaper by the Dozen movies (also, ironically, remade from a 1950 classic) and in the 1989 movie Parenthood, Steve Martin plays the role of faltering-doting-dad to perfection. The irony of course is that he himself only became a dad for the first time in real life last year at the age of 67.
As Father’s Day approaches, there’s no better movie to lose yourself in than this one. Martin plays George Banks — he isn’t a rock star, a superhero, a fighter coming back to fight one last battle – he’s just an awesome dad. An average dad with a house, a dog, two kids, a wife, and a white picket fence – literally. While he likes his job, you can tell that his passion is his family. So when his daughter, Annie, returns home from a trip to Europe with the shocking news that she’s engaged, George’s whole world gets turned upside down. When you add Franck (not Frank) and Howard, wedding coordinators extraordinaires, to the mix, George goes into emotional overdrive — culminating in a sort of break-down-hissy-fit in the middle of a grocery store. Eventually, George comes back down to earth because more than anything he wants for his little girl to be happy. And isn’t that we all want as fathers? For our kids to be happy?
Filled with a star-studded cast which also includes Diane Keaton, then newcomer Kimberly Williams, BD Wong and Martin Short, this comedy hit has endured the years with its classic tale of fatherhood. Banks is the kind of dad who plays basketball with his little girl in the backyard. The kind of dad who takes his kids to concerts and games. The kind of dad whose daughter looks up at him with those eyes that show nothing but love and admiration. In the opening, George says, “I remember how her little hand used to fit inside mine, how she used to sit on my lap and lean her head against my chest. She said I was her hero.” My own daughter, Emma, is only 9, and my step-daughter Eve 16. I hope every day I’ve done right by them both and that they see me, even to some small degree, as that kind of dad.
Being a father is the greatest reward ever. But from time-to-time we all have our doubts. We all have our “freak out” moments. And we all make mistakes. Movies like Father of the Bride help to remind us of our best selves.