The Quarantine Stream: 'Father of the Bride Part III (ish)' Is a Charming But Contrived Beacon of Light in a Weary World
(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Father of the Bride Part III (ish)
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix’s YouTube
The Pitch: This week, Netflix surprised everybody with the debut of a mini-sequel to the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride and the baby blossoming sequel that followed four years later. It’s been 25 years since we spent time with the Banks family, and if you’re wondering what the family has been up to, Father of the Bride Part II (ish) will (kind of) show you as they reunite for in a breezy virtual family meeting, including the grown up babies who were born in Father of the Bride Part II, played by two very familiar young actors. It’s quite the family affair.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Look, things are pretty bleak here in 2020, so we’ll take any kind of emotional boost we can get. And if you’re looking for a dose of joy with the cast of one of the best family comedies of all-time, writer/director Nancy Meyers has delivered it with a reunion of the original cast of Father of the Bride. That’s right, Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Kieran Culkin, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and George Newbern are all back, and this time it’s Matty (Culkin) taking the spotlight with a big announcement, and some special guests flesh out the two youngest members of the Banks family.
Along with the return of everyone from the original movie, we’ve got Florence Pugh as Megan Banks, the daughter of George and Nina (Martin and Keaton), and Ben Platt as Georgie Banks, the son of Annie Banks-MacKenzie and Bryan McKenzie. They’re all grown up and living on their own while George is driving himself crazy about the coronavirus pandemic, and he’s driving Nina crazy too, which is why he’s banished into his own room, which is how they explain why George and Nina aren’t sitting in front of the same computer. It doesn’t explain why the computer Nina is sitting on (based on her background) would be in the middle of the kitchen, but concessions had to be made in the age of coronavirus.
Speaking of which, that’s exactly what this whole meeting is about. Matty has been with the same woman for six years, and he’s sick of waiting to have a wedding to marry her due to the coronavirua pandemic. So he’s brought everyone together because he wants to have an impromptu meeting online, and he wants everyone to be there. Of course, George initially objects because he was really looking forward to a wedding that he didn’t have to pay for, but this is going to happen whether he likes it or not.
Matty’s fiancé Rachel is Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse), and she’s away from home because she’s in quarantine in a hotel after putting herself in harm’s way as a doctor. Oh, and her father is Robert De Niro, who pops in like it’s no big deal. Matty has also already figured out who will officiate the online wedding, and of course it’s Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer, in the best replication of the characters hair from the original movie that this kind of production could muster. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to have Short to this bit again, but he probably could have spent a little more time tapping back into that odd European accent that he did so well in the first two movies.
Here’s where things take a sharp turn into being extremely corny. Franck has somehow already had a bouquet of flowers planted in Rachel’s minibar fridge for this makeshift ceremony. And her father has also been able to get her late mother’s wedding band into the drawer of the desk she’s sitting at. Franck does his awkward officiating, but it fades out as we get one of George Banks’ signature voiceovers reflecting back on Matty’s childhood and the man he’s become. And then fireworks go on in Franck’s fake video chat background, and Ben Platt sings a wonderful cover of “The Way You Look Tonight.”
It’s all so touching and eye-rollingly cheesy in the most egregious way possible, complete with a nostalgic opening recap of the first two movies that runs through the opening credits (in case anyone needs a refresher), not to mention two random cutaways to scenes from the first two movies that feel shoehorned in. But in spite of all these flaws, I loved seeing this crew back together again. Even across the web, their chemistry was so effervescent, and Pugh and Platt fit in with them so well despite having zero history with the cast.
If there’s one downside to this rushed and contrived sequel, it made me wish that this saccharine mini-sequel could have been turned into an even more thoughtful feature length film. I wanted to spend more time with Matty as an adult to get an idea of the kind of man he had become. I wanted to get to know Rachel and the love that blossomed between her and Matty. I wanted to see George deal with a wedding from the other side of the aisle. Now it feels like the cake has been cut. But I suppose there’s always a chance that a movie could revolve around them finally having a real wedding. Either way, this was a lovely little detour to take in the year of our discontent. And you can watch it yourself below if you haven’t already.
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