STUDIO: Buena Vista Home Video
MSRP: $19.99 RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 105 Minutes
• “Invitation to Father of the Bride” featurette
• Steve Martin and Martin Short interview
• Commentary

It might be hard to believe; but it’s true: Steve Martin was funny once. If you look at his recent offerings (Bringing Down the House, Cheaper By the Dozen, etc.) you’ll only see a shell of the comedian that once was. I think his downfall began right after Father of the Bride. With the exception of a few good movies (like Bowfinger, with the also once funny Eddie Murphy) his career has steadily declined ever since (and I weep whenever I think of The Pink Panther remake).

The new 15th Anniversary edition of Father of the Bride gives viewers one last chance to see the old Steve again. The funny Steve. Not quite a wild and crazy guy, but at least a humorous one.

"I was born a poor black child."

The Flick

George Banks (Martin) gets a shock when his daughter returns from studying abroad – she’s engaged. She’s no longer Daddy’s little girl, and dad, mom (Diane Keaton) and daughter (Kimberly Williams) plan a wedding with their coordinator Frank (Martin Short).

Comedically the move hinges on three things: Martin’s performance, Short’s accent and the character trait that Martin’s character is cheap (or at least shell shocked at wedding costs).

"Excuse me. May I go to the bathroom first?… Thank you."

The writers excelled at the cheap factor. They wrote George to be incredibly thrifty and this makes for good comedy. Everyone has a little cheap inside them. Some more than others (I, for instance, reuse coffee filters). Everyone can appreciate George’s plight because of the inherent cheapness in all of us.

There is one scene in particular that captures George’s cheapness and has probably entered your mind as well. In a supermarket, George wonders why hot dogs come in packs of eight and buns in packs of 12. Beyond wondering, he then tears into the bag of buns to get out (and pay for) eight. The scene is great and is carried by the strong writing and Martin’s performance. At the time, he has been pushed to the edge and is wild and crazy.

I’m just a wild and craaazy guy!

Unfortunately, Martin has taken that moment and patterned the rest of his career after it. Every movie seems to have Martin all crazed. However, most of his recent offerings do not establish his character as well as Father does, nor does Martin seem to put in the same performance.

Martin delivers one of his last good comedic performances in the roll of George. At that time, however, he was on top of his game. Father of the Bride was his ninth good film in a row (Three Amigos, Little Shop of Horrors, Roxanne, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Parenthood, My Blue Heaven and LA Story). That’s a hell of a run. Definitely an actor working on the top of his game.

"Aw, what happened? Did your parents lose a bet with God?"

Then something changed. He tried to be a dramatic actor (remember Simple Twist of Fate and Leap of Faith?). He tried to be a writer (of books, plays, columns, etc.). Then he tried to be the funny family man (Houseguest, Cheaper By The Dozen, etc.). But he hasn’t found his groove again. At least not in a groove that I want to see him in. His last few crappy movies have made a lot of money. So, I guess he has hit an economic groove.

Martin Short is another comedic actor who seems to have wasted away lately (sorry, I’m just not a fan of Jiminy Glick). His performance here is waaaaaaaay over the top and seems to have been inspired by Bronson Pinchot (it’s a combination of Balki from Perfect Strangers and Serge from Beverly Hills Cop). That isn’t to say it was a bad performance, it wasn’t. Short is very funny as Frank, albeit hard to understand.

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!

The biggest detriment to the character is his thick accent. It is funny and often undecipherable (which is the punch line of a joke or two). Like all one-trick ponies, the accent eventually gets old and the viewer tires of it. Short plays it well but also plays it too long.

Maybe that’s the problem with Martin’s career too – that he’s a one-trick pony. He played the wild and crazy guy into maturity and now has nowhere to go. I guess bad remakes and bland family fare is where old comedians go when they die. Just ask Eddie Murphy.

7 out of 10

I suppose you could say that everyone has an El Guapo. For some, shyness may be an El Guapo. For others, lack of education may be an El Guapo. But for us, El Guapo is a large ugly man who wants to kill us!

The Look

It’s like looking through an old wedding photo album. It still looks good even though time has gone on and newer wedding albums look nicer. There isn’t anything out of focus and images that need to look sharp do.

I’m guessing they didn’t spend a lot of time or money on the technical aspects of this disk. Those buying it probably aren’t going to be concerned about quality transfers. As long as the movie is clear the masses will be fine.

5 out of 10

The Noise

All the explosions come through great… oh, wait, wrong review. The sound is exactly what you need. The dialogue is easily heard and understood. There was nothing impressive about the audio – but it didn’t need to be.

6 out of 10

"It was a twelve-gauge, double-barreled, grenade-launcher of LOVE."

The Goodies

Anyone who’s been married knows this feeling: you know that gift you couldn’t wait to sell back? That’s pretty much the extras on this disk. For a special “15th Anniversary” edition they went pretty bland on the extras.

Both the commentary and the featurette are plain. They are pretty much the same commentary and featurette you’ve seen on every disk you own. Neither are particularly interesting nor cover any new ground.

I had some hope for the interview segment. The back of the box promotes it as “Steve Martin and Martin Short Interview each other.” That concept has some promise. They do not, however, interview each other. They talk amongst themselves ad-libbing a variety of things and then play off what the other just ad-libbed.

I have a feeling Martin and Short just started goofing off during the press junket for the movie and someone left the cameras rolling. For the most part I’m fine with that. I like seeing unplanned extras like this on disks. This one just isn’t all that funny (which is really surprising given the two involved). Maybe had Jiminy Glick done the interview (even with my distaste for the character) it probably would have come off better.

A nice bonus feature would have been to have Short’s lines subtitled (like on Snatch where Brad Pitt’s character is). Only have the subtitles be something different than what he said. Sure, it would have been a pointless extra but so are the other ones they put on the disk.

3.5 out of 10

"I never touched a gun in my life. That and that alone forever doomed me to middle management."

The Artwork

Not bad. It keeps the wedding theme up very well by giving it an “invitation” look. It is a safe cover design that should turn anyone away from buying it.

5.5 out of 10

Overall: 5.4 out of 10