In an entertainment landscape comprised of so many remakes and reboots, it is refreshing when a remake has a new perspective to offer on an old story. Father of the Bride, the remake of the 1991 film starring Steve Martin, leans less on the sentimentality of a father “giving away” his favorite daughter in marriage and more on the cultural dynamics of immigrant families and different Latinx communities.
In the new Father of the Bride, Billy (Andy Garcia) and Ingrid Herrera (Gloria Estefan) have two daughters, lawyer Sofia (Adria Arjona) and designer Cora (Isabela Merced). Sofia is Billy’s favorite, so he struggles with the news that she is marrying another lawyer, Adan (Diego Boneta), and moving to Mexico within a few months. In the runup to the wedding, Billy has to cope not only with his worry about his daughter but also with how stressed Adan’s family makes him feel. Plus, tensions in his marriage to Ingrid come out into the open. Father of the Bride is a comedy, so you know it will all work out in the end.
I worried that this movie would rely heavily on stereotypes, but it sidesteps the usual narratives Hollywood produces about immigrant families by having Sofia marry a man from a different Latinx culture. Writer Matt Lopez approaches the different politics and customs a Cuban American like Billy might have compared to Adan’s Mexican father with a light touch. With Adan’s family, nothing is as it immediately appears, and the emerging relationships between two strong father figures and the three wives give the story most of its comedy. The wedding planner in this version, Natalie (Chloe Fineman), is a play on the Girl Boss trope with some pretty solid jokes.
Much of the movie, however, is still somewhat predictable and tired. From the moment the younger sister appeared at a family dinner, it was pretty clear where the story was going. The third act twists manage to deliver a heartwarming conclusion, but overall, the remake gets most of its sparkle from the chemistry between the actors. It is good, not great.
Father of the Bride was written by Matt Lopez, based on the novel by Edward Streeter, and directed by Gary Alazraki. It runs 1 hour 57 minutes exclusively on HBO Max and is rated PG-13.
When Netflix’s God’s Favorite Idiot from Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone proved unwatchable, I turned to Spiderhead. In this sci-fi drama in the vein of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, Chris Hemsworth plays Abnesti, the facilitator of an experimental detention center in which he tests powerful pharmaceuticals on a group of inmates deferred from regular prisons. Along with his assistant, Verlaine (Mark Paguio), Abnesti administers drugs that make people have intense emotional responses. When one of the inmates, Jeff (Miles Teller), starts to push back on the program, he uncovers that Abnesti may not have the good intentions he proclaims.
Although Spiderhead takes a bit of time to get the story set up and drags toward the end, the central part of the story features gripping emotional stakes that make the intriguing, if sometimes silly, science fiction compelling. Often, science fiction gets unwieldy with epic scales and too many details, but this adaptation of a short story is economical with its storytelling, which puts the focus on the character studies.
Portraying those characters, the cast delivers performances with surprisingly different tones, balancing out the comedy and drama elements. Chris Hemsworth is in full-on silly mode in his performance, which works for the self-important genius he plays. His superhuman charm also lends itself well to the manipulation at work in the story. Miles Teller makes Jeff understated, almost defeated, but he also carries most of the emotional stakes. As his love interest, Jurnee Smollett has one of the most intensely emotional scenes of the movie and acts in circles around her castmates. For its intriguing story, good production quality, and fun soundtrack—featuring a fight scene to “You Make My Dreams” by Hall and Oates—Spiderhead is well worth the watch.
Spiderhead was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, based upon the short story “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders. It was directed by Joseph Kosinski, runs 1 hour 46 minutes, and is rated R for violent content, language, and sexual content.
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