It’s Father’s Day and what better way to celebrate the day than with Touchstone Pictures 1991 classic Father of the Bride? This film brings one of Steve Martin’s most endearing roles to the screen. Sit back and enjoy as Steve Martin shows us the joy of being a dad, and all the millions of little things parents do for their kids.

The Movie

George Banks, played by Steve Martin, is on a roll in life. Everything is going great at work, he has a happy family, and his daughter is coming home from college. When Annie, played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, arrives home with shocking news of her engagement to Brian, played by George Newbern, George Banks knows that his life is changing, and he’s not ready for that to happen.

The Banks family jumps into wedding planning but George can’t seem to accept the fact that his 22-year-old daughter is getting married. Everything has always worked out his way, and for the first time in his life George is confronting the fact that his family is growing older and life is changing.

While Annie and her mother Nina, played by Diane Keaton, organize what needs to be done for the wedding, George struggles with being happy for his daughter, but also worried about the cost of the wedding and just not accepting the fact that Annie is getting married. When Nina and Annie hire wedding coordinator Franck, played by Martin Short, George gets so stressed out about the wedding that he gets arrested at the grocery store.

Nina comes to bail him out, but before he is allowed out of the cell, she confronts him over his attitude and forces him to accept the wedding and to not cause their daughter to lose her happiness because of George’s bad attitude. Thankfully, the father of the bride relents and makes peace with the wedding, regardless of the cost.

George grows into his role, and on the day of the wedding though still sad about the fact his daughter has grown up, he works non-stop to make the wedding a success. From walking Annie down the aisle, to missing out on dinner at the reception because he is taking care of a thousand little tasks that got left to him, George Banks is the best dad there is.

As Annie and Brian take off for their honeymoon, George and Nina are left in their home reflecting on their day, and how much things have changed. Though George missed Annie and Brian leaving, she calls her father to thank him for everything.

The Best Moments on Screen

Steve Martin owns this film in his role as George Banks. He wants what’s best for his daughter and often overreacts to every little thing, because that’s what parenthood does to you. Martin makes George Banks a good man because even though he overreacts constantly, Steve Martin brings humility and humanity to a role that often gets played as being clueless or out of touch with their children. The way Martin shows the raw emotion as it dawns on George that his daughter is growing up, is heartbreaking and memorable. An audience will route for George thanks to Martin’s brilliant performance, even when he snoops around the son-in-law’s home.

Diane Keaton does an amazing job portraying the patient and understanding Nina. She, like George, is not overjoyed about the engagement, but she puts her doubts aside and accepts it early on because as she tells George, Annie could go off and marry Brian anyway and they would never see her again. Keaton’s Nina is the classic example of the cooler head in the relationship. Her patience for George is unbelievable. Seeing Keaton and Martin holding hands at the wedding will make viewers wish that George and Nina Banks were their parents.

Martin Short is hilarious as Franck. His wedding planner is a nightmare for George, and Short spends much of his screen time, which isn’t a lot, being the comic relief. From his accent to his condescending attitude towards George, Martin Short tears through the scenes with pure joy.

The Worst Moments on Screen

There was only one point in the film that was difficult to watch and that was the wedding reception. Poor George Banks is so consumed with tasks making the reception perfect for Annie, that he misses out on dinner, doesn’t get to dance with his daughter, and even misses saying goodbye to Annie and Brian before they leave for their honeymoon. I know that this is meant to show how kids rarely see the million little things parents do to make their kids happy, but it was still hard to watch. George had come to accept the wedding and worked hard to make it perfect for his daughter, and then to spend most of the reception behind the scenes, was heartbreaking to watch. Granted, this was used to emphasize a point, and would not happen in real life, but Martin’s acting makes the audience feel the hurt he feels by missing out on so much.

Film Facts

  • This is a remake of the 1950 classic Spencer Tracy/Elizabeth Taylor film of the same name.
  • Steve Martin’s character is reportedly named after George Banks from Mary Poppins.
  • Steve Martin’s character’s middle name is Stanley. That was done to pay tribute to Spencer Tracy’s character from the original, whose name was Stanley.
  • Eugene Levy has a cameo in the film as a singer auditioning for the band for the wedding.
  • This is Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s film debut.
  • The film pays tribute to the original film with a similar scene. Both Elizabeth Taylor and Kimberly Williams-Paisley look at a Venus de Milo statue with a clock in the stomach with disgust.
  • Steve Martin signed on to the film before the script was written.
  • Apparently, Disney Studios boss Jeffrey Katzenberg didn’t want Diane Keaton for the role of Nina, because her last film was a box office failure. It took the writer Nancy Meyers and director Charles Shyer to fight for the casting of Keaton.
  • Martin Short based his character Frank on real life wedding planner Kevin Lee.
  • The 1992 Chicago Film Critics Association nominated Kimberly Williams-Paisley for the Most Promising Actress Award.
  • Steve Martin was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance for Father of the Bride.
  • Phoebe Cates was the original choice for Annie, but she was pregnant at the time, so the filmmakers went with then unknown Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
  • Steve Martin considers Spencer Tracy’s performance in the original film perfect, so he never tried to mimic the legendary actor. Rather, Martin just tried to be himself.

See It/Skip It?

See It! Father of the Bride holds up after twenty-nine year. The trials and tribulations of families are timeless, but Steve Martin brings life and emotion to this regular tale, and it is his performance that makes it timeless.

Next week on ‘To Touchstone and Beyond’ we look at going to summer camp, with Camp Nowhere.

Director: Charles Shyer

Production Company: Touchstone Pictures

Principal Cast:

  • Steve Martin as George Banks
  • Diane Keaton as Nina Banks
  • Kieran Culkin as Matty Banks
  • Kimberly Williams-Paisley as Annie Banks
  • Martin Short as Franck
  • B.D. Wong as Howard
  • George Newbern as Brian

Budget: $20 million

Release Date: December 20, 1991  

Box Office Gross Domestic: $ 89,325,780