It was a hit movie in 1950 and again in the 1990s – now in a reimagined version of “Father of the Bride,” it is a Latino dad who is planning his daughter’s wedding, and Hollywood is hoping the film classic will resonate with audiences once again.
Award-winning actor Andy García, best-known for his Oscar-nominated role in “The Godfather: Part III,” stars in “Father of the Bride” as Billy Herrera, a prominent Cuban American architect. Grammy Award-winning performer Gloria Estefan plays his wife, Ingrid, while Adria Arjona is cast as their daughter, Sofia, and Diego Boneta as her fiancé, Adan.
The movie, which is set in Miami, is being described as a modern take on the 1950 film, “Father of the Bride,” which starred Spencer Tracy. Steve Martin played the title role in the 1991 remake and in the 1995 sequel.
Estefan and García sat down with palabra to talk about the significance of creating a Latino reimagining of the film. “I was very honored that they would think of me to try to continue the legacy of this intellectual property,” García said. “I was very touched and felt I had the responsibility to do the best I could with it (when it came to) how the cultures were represented in the piece–without the stereotypes that we have been accustomed to.”
The romantic comedy tells the story of two successful families from the Cuban and Mexican cultures coming together to plan the big day. “Father of the Bride,” portrays Latinos in a positive light–but García said years ago that was a rarity in Hollywood.
“When I first started trying to get work in this industry, those opportunities didn’t exist for actors of Hispanic descent,” García said. “You were typecast, and the roles that they were writing were mostly gang members for males,” he recalled. “There were no movies being made. There was occasionally a movie that would break through like “El Norte,” but these were independent movies that people scratched their way to production.”
These days, García and Estefan are expressing optimism about the apparent trend toward more diversity in entertainment. “You are seeing actors not changing their names,” Estefan pointed out, referring to a time when some Latino performers would change their names to improve their chances of getting more work in Hollywood.
Estefan is especially proud of her role in the film and predicts that this newest version of “Father of the Bride,” will appeal to audiences everywhere. “Family, extended family, food, music, celebration of life–it’s great. It’s a human story–the ‘leaving of the nest’ story of parents and their children.”
“I think what will resonate is just family,” said Boneta. “It’s authentic enough for Latinos to watch it and enjoy it and see themselves on screen,” he said. “But at the same time, people from all over the world can watch it and relate to all the things that happen.”
Arjona says what is refreshing about the movie is the new themes it explores. “We are really going to show the world that we are just like you. We are all living the human experience, and we all want the exact same thing. It’s a fun, funny, joyous, smart movie.”
“Father of the Bride” was produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, and will stream on HBO Max. It has not been determined yet if it will have a theatrical release at a later date. The movie is the latest in a string of Latino-themed projects released by major Hollywood studios in the past year. The list includes “In the Heights,” “Encanto” and “West Side Story.”
Among the members of the new film’s creative team are executive producers Brad Pitt and Andy García, producer Paul Perez, as well as director Gaz Alazraki and screenwriter Matt Lopez. Lopez said the inspiration for the story came from the many Cuban American weddings he had attended.
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“You know, (the theme of) “Father of the Bride,” is one of the few things that crosses all cultures,” Lopez said. “We wed. We pair off. We fall in love and we get married. I think the universality of that is important.”
As he wrote the script, Lopez said that bringing a sense of authenticity to the story was always top of mind.
“It was something that we were cognizant of. A lot of times when we see Latinos depicted, it’s kind of like we are a monolith,” Lopez said. “We wanted, on the one hand, to celebrate the differences between the cultures and show people that within this larger umbrella of Latinos there are (various) traditions and ethnicities and so on,” Lopez explained. “But at the same time, there’s this nice moment at the wedding reception where you see the commonality of the Latino experience in America,” he said.
According to recent studies, producing media products that appeal to diverse audiences also makes good business sense. The “Hollywood Diversity Report 2022” states that, “People of color accounted for the majority of opening weekend, domestic ticket sales for six of the top 10 films released in theaters in 2021.” The UCLA study also found that, “Seven of the top 10 streaming films in 2021–ranked by Latinx household rating—featured casts that were more than 30 percent minority.”
“Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic. It’s a large viewing audience. It’s a young viewing audience,” said Lopez. “In the case of television, they tend to watch the commercials to a greater extent than the mainstream broader television audience.”
The growing recognition of Latinos as potential consumers of English-language entertainment projects is a very positive sign as far as veteran performers Andy García and Gloria Estefan are concerned. “We are seeing a lot more opportunity,'' Estefan said. “But it would be great to see us represented in the numbers that we are actually represented in the United States. But at least it’s going in a positive direction,” she added.
“More stories are being told,” Garcia concluded. “There has been a lot of progress, and we have many more great stories to tell.”
The conversation with the cast and creative team of “Father of the Bride,” continued with Mexican director Gaz Alazraki. Alazraki has had a successful career directing such projects as “Nosotros los Nobles” and “Club de Cuervos.”
The questions and responses have been edited for clarity and space.
palabra: What thought process went into showing the world the distinction between the two Latino cultures in the film?
Alazraki: “We knew that these differences were never presented on a global platform like in a Warner Bros. movie and (it was) the exact opportunity to give a wink to the fact that we are confused as a monolithic species behind the glass. So we had the opportunity to make those distinctions. There is this scene (for example) where you have Chloe Fineman playing the wedding planner, and at first sees all of them (and says) “Well, it’s a Latinx wedding!” (Then the family members say) “No. They are Cuban and we are Mexican. And flamenco is from Spain. How do these ideas connect?”
palabra: “Father of the Bride,” has been described as fun, funny, and smart. How did you go about getting the movie to that point?
Alazraki: “By making it personal–personal for me, personal for the actors, personal for the producers and personal for the studio. (For) anybody collaborating, it was important that we got their voice in there, so that it became specific. Most of the time I insist that my ideas are always on soft focus until we are on the set and we’re doing the scenes and we are figuring out what the scene really needs to say, and then, even the editor becomes an important contributor saying how it is personal to him.”