"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." --Steve Martin, Father of the Bride
Tomorrow afternoon, on the stage of the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis, my baby sister Debra stands up there and gets herself married. She's the first member of my immediate family to undertake this commitment (well, aside from my parents) and I get the honor of running the lights for it. I know that in the past few months my sister has been working very hard organizing this event and a few weeks back she came into the video store to check out the Steve Martin comedy Father of the Bride (the remake of the 1950 film with Spencer Tracy and Liz Taylor). I suspect that Deb did this because she needed to laugh at the sight of someone on screen enduring the horrors that she is currently experiencing in real life.
At any rate, she reminded me of a phenomenon that I've observed in my many years in the video business: namely that Father of the Bride is generally considered to be the "ultimate" wedding movie (or at least ultimate wedding research movie). People only seem to want to check it out when they or someone they know is preparing for a wedding. I jest not. In the fifteen years I've worked at a video store, I have personally seen Father of the Bride go out at least a couple dozen times and whenever a customer brings up the box to the counter to rent it, I always ask the same question: "So, who's getting married?" Everytime--and I mean EVERY time, without fail--they have an answer. "Oh, it's my brother" or "my daughter" or "my cousin" or "my friend."
It's certainly not be the only film to deal with the subject of weddings (just off the top of my head I can come up with Betsy's Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding, Muriel's Wedding, The Wedding Crashers, The Wedding Date, The Wedding Singer, The Wedding Planner, Runaway Bride, 27 Dresses, etc), but somehow, somewhere along the way, Father of the Bride became the cinematic "authority" on weddings. Does it deserve such a position? Sure. I don't see why not. I mean, I've watched the film numerous times and I still think it's utterly charming. I like the way it finds humor in the process of putting on a wedding (and they go the whole thing too, from beginning to end), highlighting the foibles, the frustrations and, not least of all, the finances of it all, while still maintaining a sweet and sentimental tone. True, some would characterize it as being "saccharine", but Father of the Bride is funny and, at times, poignant without being edgy or cynical and that alone makes it somewhat of a rarity among Hollywood comedies nowadays.