[Father’s Day] Father of the Bride (1991)

Director: Charles Shyer

Cast: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams

Screenplay: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer

105 mins. Rated PG.

 

It’s Father’s Day, and while I am not a father (to my knowledge), I figured now would be a great time to watch a good Father’s Day movie.

George Banks (Steve Martin, Roxanne, Billy Lynn’s Halftime Walk) is dealing with the worst situation of his entire life: his 22-year-old daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams, The Christmas Chronicles, TV’s According to Jim) is getting married to a man he’s never met. As the impending date of the nuptials nears, George’s sanity gets closer and closer to shattering.

The central relationships in the Banks family are the strongest element of the film, specifically between George and Annie. I could genuinely believe that they were father and daughter. George doesn’t hate the idea of her marrying, but he’s terrified of losing his daughter. He wants to be a father for just a little longer. I really enjoyed both of them, and I enjoyed Diane Keaton (Annie Hall, Poms) as George’s wife, Nina, who is so easily won over by Annie’s fiance.

George gets into some pretty frustratingly fun interactions early on in the film, like meeting the in-laws in their lavish home. I would have liked more of these situations because as the film moves along, they lose these moments. In that way, it also lost me a little.

For all the love I have for the central family dynamic, I was unimpressed with Martin Short (The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, The Addams Family) as Franck Eggelhoffer, the comedic wedding planner who is so unintelligible that he grew old rather quickly. I started out really enjoying his character, and it didn’t work after a while. The filmmakers just leaned so heavily into Eggelhoffer as a supporting character.

Father of the Bride has some really entertaining characters and comedic set pieces. The problem is that it just doesn’t have enough of them to keep the film in that upper tier of Steve Martin comedies. The movie has plenty of heart, though, and that keeps the emotional core strong enough to entertain enough. I still recommend the film but I wish it were stronger.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[IndyPendence Day] Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliot

Screenplay: Lawrence Kasdan

115 mins. Rated PG.

  • Academy Award Winner: Best Art Direction – Set Decoration
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Sound
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Film Editing
  • Academy Award Winner: Best Effects, Visual Effects
  • Academy Award Winner: Special Achievement Award
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Picture
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Director
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Cinematography
  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Music, Original Score

IMDb Top 250: #48 (as of 6/25/2019)

 

What else would I watch on IndyPendence Day, right?

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, Witness, The Secret Life of Pets 2) is a professor and archaeologist known for acquiring various historical items of merit. Now he’s been tasked by the American government to find the missing Ark of the Covenant, a chest that contains the remains of the Ten Commandments, and an item he has a history with. He doesn’t know its location, but his former love Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, Starman, Year by the Sea) may know something. He has to work quickly, though, because a group of Nazis, led by rival archaeologist Belloq (Paul Freeman, Hot Fuzz, TV’s Absentia), are already on the search for Marion and the Ark, as Hitler believes the Ark to have mystical powers that may grant the Nazis an edge on their quest for global domination.

I actually got into Indiana Jones in my late teens because of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. When I heard there was going to be a new movie, I knew I had to see the other three first, because I’m a little insane that way. While Raiders of the Lost Ark is not my favorite of the four films, it’s a damn good introductory adventure to our heroic archaeologist and it set the blueprint for how to create an effective adventure under the crafting of director Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Ready Player One), George Lucas, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, Solo: A Star Wars Story).

Harrison Ford is perfectly cast as Jones. It’s laughable now to even think of someone else like Tom Selleck, Nick Nolte, or even Steve Martin donning the fedora, even though they were all part of the lengthy list of potentials for the lead. He is excellent here, playing an otherworldly parallel to Han Solo, another crotchety character who thinks he knows everything. His chemistry with both love interest Karen Allen and also close friend Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Aquaman), are both exemplary.

What’s so great about introducing this film at this time is that so much of its iconography and recognizable pop culture occurs in the opening sequence. My wife had only seen Temple of Doom and Crystal Skull (the latter of which probably a decade ago), and after Indy takes on the fertility idol, she turned and asked what happens in the movie, assuming that the boulder and everything leading up to it was the plot of the movie. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s true.

Spielberg’s style, borrowed from pulp adventure novels, B-movies, and serials from his youth, elevated the material with a fun sense of style that integrated nicely without getting bogged down in silliness. He also wasn’t afraid to hit the violence hard. In fact, when I was younger, I remember a teacher showing us the violence in one of the sequences of the film. I cannot remember the reason for it, but we were supposed to count the number of violent acts that occur in the fight sequence, and it was a lot. To be honest, that’s one of the great things about the film. The hunt for the Ark is not an easy one for Indy or Marion, and it is their knowledge and skill that keep them going. Plus, Spielberg, Lucas, and Kasdan actually showcase their lead character’s intellect by having him skirt a few nastier situations in the film by using his brain power over his bullwhip and fist.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a nearly-perfect film which has aged extremely well (except for the age of Marion during her romantic entanglement with the archaeologist). It’s action, violence, and smarts make for a B-movie with an A-movie cast and crew. This is excellent adventure boiled down to its core.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, click here.

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, click here.

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, click here.

For my review of Steven Spielberg’s The Post, click here.

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