FATHER OF THE BRIDE, PART II

From the Dec. 8, 1995, Deseret News

FATHER OF THE BRIDE, PART II — Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly Williams, George Newbern, Kieran Culkin; rated PG (vulgarity).

Were it not for Steve Martin's hilarity and charm, "Father of the Bride, Part II" would be a major fizzle. As it is, it's merely a minor fizzle, with enough laughs to earn audience forgiveness for its many faults.

A sequel to the 1991 hit "Father of the Bride," which was a remake of the 1950 classic of the same title, this latest effort, "Father of the Bride, Part II," is a remake of a 1951 sequel that was titled "Father's Little Dividend."

That may be a bit confusing, but the point is that "Father of the Bride, Part II" is perhaps the first movie in film history to qualify as both a sequel and a remake (unless you count Sean Connery's final James Bond effort, "Never Say Never Again," which was a remake of "Thunderball" but was actually outside the official Bond series in which he had earlier starred).

Anyway, this time Martin and Diane Keaton, as George and Nina Banks, are stunned with the news that their daughter Annie (Kimberly Williams) is about to become a mother — which, of course, will make them grandparents.

This sends George on a search to recapture his youth, as he dyes his hair brown, works out at the gym and gets romantic with his wife on the kitchen floor. The latter tryst, however, results in an even bigger shock about halfway through the movie, as Nina gets pregnant, too! (Since the film plays up this moment as a surprise I would not reveal it here except that it's all over the TV and theatrical previews.)

And, of course, Martin Short's over-the-top gay decorator Franck (along with assistant B.D. Wong) is back, this time dominating a bit too much of the proceedings in the film's finale, during the frantic, obvious they're-giving-birth-at-the-same-time climax. (Didn't we just see this in "Nine Months"?)

Despite a few vulgar moments, as when George is the subject of an unwelcome proctology exam and when he accidentally puts his hand on Franck's groin in the car, this is all innocent fluff.

More offensive, however, is the fact that this film portrays the Bankses as fabulously wealthy, so that there isn't really any contrast with their ostentatious in-laws this time around. (At one point, Martin casually writes a check for $100,000!) As a result, it may be a bit harder for Joe Average to identify with the Banks clan.

But most of the way it's Steve Martin's show and he garners enough laughs to make it fairly enjoyable.