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    Wednesday, May 31, 2023

    ‘Father of the Bride’ director talks remaking a classic for a new era

    From left, Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta in "Father of the Bride," directed by Gary Alazraki. (HBO/TNS)

    Though there are plenty of exciting new films coming to movie theaters this summer, timely updates of timeless stories have become something of a niche streaming specialty in 2022. From the Jane Austen-inspired “Fire Island” on Hulu to the most recent “Cheaper by the Dozen” update on Disney+, classic stories have been getting refreshed in a big way this year, and this trend is set to continue with a new “Father of the Bride” adaptation available on HBO Max.

    Though this adaptation hits some familiar plot beats (this is the third film adaptation of the 1949 book), it has a very modern feel that helps bring out new elements of the classic story.

    Starring Andy Garcia and Gloria Estefan, this reimagined take shifts the action to South Florida where a Cuban American architect living in Miami finds himself grappling not only with his daughter’s impending nuptials but also the dissolution of his own marriage.

    Director Gary "Gaz" Alazraki says that the idea behind the story updates was to reexamine the rite of passage of a father when it comes to a daughter getting married. “We wanted to ask what that moment looks like today, when you have new generations pushing back against the patriarchy in a way that challenges it. The father of the bride is suddenly not endowed with the same sort of honor he thought he would get and we felt that (was) an interesting way to (revisit) the story again.”

    While this latest adaptation takes on serious subjects such as the immigrant experience in America and evolving gender roles, it still manages to be lighthearted and upbeat.

    “We’re dealing with issues that even the great philosophers were dealing with,” Alazraki said, adding that he wanted the story to have multiple layers, including one that specifically addressed the differences between the Cuban American couple played by Estefan and Garcia and the new in-laws, who are from Mexico, where Alazraki is himself from.

    “We try to find the truth in it by having a team, (including) Andy Garcia and Gloria, who were the keepers of the Cuban tradition, and the DP (director of photography) and I were like the keepers of the Mexican traditions,” Alazraki said. “Finding those two voices of things that are specific to us and common to them in both cultures was a lot of fun to discover on the set.”

    The Florida location was instrumental to the plot, especially as a hurricane becomes a major complication towards the end of the film. Even though the movie was filmed mostly in Georgia, Alazraki said Floridians will recognize several spots that were shot on location in South Florida, specifically in Coconut Grove and Star Island.

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