My Family’s Favourite Movie and Why it Deserves More Credit

05.11.18

If you’re anything like my family (and there’s a good chance you’re not because my family is insane), it’s usually about this time each year that you start making plans for Christmas.

For the Walkers it’s: where will we have it (Auckland or Matarangi), are there any boyfriends in tow (for mum’s sake: hopefully), who will be in charge of the pavlova (yours truly), who will be in charge of waking everyone up at 6am to open presents (regrettably, Charlotte) and how soon is too soon to start playing Christmas carols (trick question – it’s never too soon!!).

But some things just aren’t up for debate. Namely, the movie we will watch together on Christmas Eve or post-Christmas lunch while nursing a turkey coma:

 Father Of The Bride

Yes, the 1991 classic starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton is ours. Not Love Actually. Not Elf. Not Diehard and not even Home Alone. It’s the perfect Christmas movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with traditional suburban family values and vanilla-frosted, oatmeal-coloured cashmere excellence. If you’ve never seen it, I won’t judge you. But I will educate you.

It’s hard to pinpoint what makes Father Of The Bride so special. It probably has a lot to do with Nancy Meyers. The screenwriter and director is responsible for The Parent Trap, The Holiday and It’s Complicated, but it’s her ability to create architectural dreams that are leading characters in themselves that has become her trademark. The family home in Father of The Bride is intoxicatingly flawless. It looks expensive but distinctly lived-in, it’s ginormous but never stark or empty, instead cosseting the characters in buttery-soft layers of upholstery and domestic paraphernalia like pristinely stacked bookshelves (you just know the Banks family has actually read every single book) and cabinets filled with porcelain dinnerware.

Or maybe it’s the cast. If I didn’t have the world’s greatest mother already, I’d want Diane Keaton to be it. I bet she makes her own bread. And you know how there are some people who have been adults for their entire life? Like they just skipped childhood completely and are perpetually 55 year’s old with white hair? That’s Steve Martin! And Richard Gere, now that I think about it. But Steve Martin!! Come on. Then there’s Martin Short’s character, Franck Eggelhoffer. The eccentric, incomprehensible wedding planner was based off real-life wedding planner to the stars, Kevin Lee, who is famous for orchestrating Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s wedding and is often spotted on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills as Lisa Vanderpump’s party guru. If that isn’t the best thing you’ve ever heard in your entire life.

And, if nothing else, it’s the father-daughter relationship that will pull you in. George Banks’ 22-year-old daughter, Annie, is suddenly engaged – to the nice albeit stale, Bryan – and George hasn’t emotionally prepared himself for this moment. He’s reluctant at best, neurotic at worst. The movie is littered with subtle, poignant moments that speak to the importance of George and Annie’s relationship: from their father-daughter backyard basketball games, to eating cereal together at 3am, soothing pre-wedding jitters. George confesses to the camera:

“You worry about her meeting the wrong kind of guy, the kind of guy who only wants one thing, and you know exactly what that one thing is, because it’s the same thing you wanted when you were their age. Then, you stop worrying about her meeting the wrong guy, and you start worrying about her meeting the right guy. That’s the greatest fear of all, because, then you lose her.” 

I’m not crying, you are.


Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club