This version benefits from being centered on two Latino cultures. The Spencer Tracy and Steve Martin “Father of the Bride” films were about WASP-y families. This one is about Cuban-Americans living in Florida and it makes the most of the vibrant colors and music that are central to their community. Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan play Billy and Ingrid Herrera, with Adria Arjona as their lawyer daughter Sofia, and Isabela Merced as her would-be dress designer sister Cora. Sofia’s fiancé Adan (Diego Boneta) is Mexican and they plan to leave their New York law firm jobs to work at a non-profit in Mexico. So, there are many generational and cultural conflicts. Instead of a church wedding, they want the officiant to be “my guide Monica from the Zen center.” Will the music be salsa or mariachi at the wedding? And wait until you see Billy’s face when Adan’s father mentions that he’s bringing Mexican cigars to the reception.
There are conflicts within the Herrera family as well. Billy arrived in the United States with nothing and worked hard to become an architect. It means everything to him that he was able to provide a home for his family, one he built himself. He is proud of what he has accomplished and proud of his Cuban heritage. But Ingrid feels that he takes her for granted. Counseling has not helped and she wants a divorce. The therapist tries to be reassuring about what comes next: “Just because this marriage has devolved into rancor and reprisal does not man the divorce has to as well.” The night they are about to tell the family, Sofia announces that she has met someone, she is engaged, and she wants to have the wedding in a month so they can move to Mexico and start new jobs. Billy and Ingrid agree to delay the news about their divorce until after Sofia is married.
That secret replaces some of the plot elements of the earlier versions, putting more emphasis on the conflicts between Billy and Ingrid. It skips the cringe comedy of Steve Martin’s falling into the in-law’s pool or the gentle fantasy of Spencer Tracy’s anxiety dream. And it omits one of my favorite moments in any movie ever, Spencer Tracy’s face when Elizabeth Taylor tells him why she wants to call off the wedding. His seamless shift from concern to relief to understanding to deep paternal love mingled with the wistful realization of all the lessons in love the young couple has ahead of them is a master class in acting. (Steve Martin’s version of the scene is almost as good.)