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FATHER OF THE BRIDE – Alan Silvestri

December 16, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

THROWBACK THIRTY

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Father of the Bride is charming remake of the classic 1950 Spencer Tracy-Elizabeth Taylor comedy, written by Nancy Meyers and directed by Charles Shyer. Steve Martin takes over the Tracy role as George Banks, a middle-aged father who finds himself suffering both a midlife crisis and a nervous breakdown when his only daughter Anne (Kimberly Williams) announces she is getting married. What follows is a comedy of errors as George – who is reluctant to see his daughter as a grown-up woman – suffers all manner of mishaps, mixed messages, and physical pratfalls as he supervises the organization of the wedding he does not want to happen. The film co-stars Diane Keaton and George Newbern, and features a hilarious cameo from Martin Short as Franck the wedding planner, and is one of those feelgood movies that is funny and heartwarming all at the same time.

Father of the Bride was the fifth of the five scores he wrote in 1991, after Soapdish, Dutch, Ricochet, and Shattered, and was my far the most successful in terms of the popularity of the film. As befits the film, the music Silvestri wrote for Father of the Bride is light and cheerful, sweet and romantic, with a couple of recurring themes, and influences that come from light big band jazz, the wedding-themed classical repertoire, and lush Hollywood sentimentality. The main theme, performed in its entirety in the “Main Title,” is one of Silvestri’s best. It is bookended by clear references to two of the most famous pieces of wedding music from the classical canon, Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from his 1850 opera Lohengrin – colloquially known as ‘Here Comes the Bride’ – and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from his 1842 score for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Silvestri’s actual main theme is glorious – sweeping strings, a warm horn countermelody, romantic and appealing – and then the friendly jazz theme for George is a terrific duet for piano and saxophone, with brushed snares and a plucked bass that makes it a close cousin of his score for Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

The main secondary theme in the score is “Annie’s Theme,” which represents George’s feelings for his daughter, especially in terms of how he still sees her a little girl rather than a grown woman about to be married. Annie’s Theme is a lovely, sentimental piece for oboes and strings, innocent, tender, and wholesome. Most of the first half of the score underscores George and his various comic misadventures as he tries to arrange the wedding, meets the with in-laws, and more, most of which have hilarious results. “Drive to Brunch” is a piece of what I’m calling ‘Father of the Bride Funko-Pop’ a lively, jazzy, pop-rock instrumental with a wakka-wakka guitars, keyboards, and tropical percussion, which comes across as a throwback to some his early 1980s scores like Romancing the Stone.

Both “Snooping Around” and “Pool Cue” are examples of fun, light caper music, which at times becomes a little mickey mousey and a little frantic, especially towards the end of the second cue where George is attacked by a dog belonging to his future son-in-law’s parents, and he eventually falls headlong into their swimming pool. Later, “$250 a Head” returns to the Father of the Bride Funko-Pop sound, albeit with more emphasis on heavier brass, while “Basketball Kiss” is a major throwback to the early 1990s romantic comedy sound, and is a veritable festival of saxophone cheese and boom-tish percussion.

However, the rest of the second half of the score is where Silvestri really leans into the sentimentality, with multiple performances of both the Main Theme and Annie’s Theme, as the big day approaches, and George finally accepts his daughter’s dreams and desires and starts to accept the reality of the wedding. “Annie Asleep” is an especially tender performance of the main theme led by harp, and “The Wedding” is upbeat, faster paced, and a little frenetic, whereas “Snow Scene” is a gorgeous version of Annie’s theme arranged for a pretty piano

The version of the main theme in “The Big Day” is very clever in the way that Silvestri performs two versions of the ‘Here Comes the Bride’ melody – one completely normal, replete with chiming bells and glittering strings that represents reality, and one that sounds tortured and strangled, representing all-consuming neuroses. Finally, both “Annie at the Mirror” and “My Annie’s Gone” offer soft, wistful, romantic versions of the main theme as George – having let go of his obsessiveness and embraced Annie and her future – allows himself one final moment of reflective nostalgia. The “End Credits” offer a massive sweeping finale, with gorgeous statements of the main theme, Annie’s theme, and the jazz theme as part of a brief 3½ suite.

The soundtrack also includes a recording of that now ubiquitous wedding song, Johann Pachelbel’s Canon and Gigue in D, and two performances of the classic Oscar-winning Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields jazz standard “The Way You Look Tonight” from the 1936 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musical Swing Time, performed by vocalist Steve Tyrell.

The soundtrack for Father of the Bride runs for just 29 minutes, and only 19½ of that is score, but despite its brevity it’s a lovely work that will appeal mostly to sentimental suckers like me. Alan Silvestri has always had a terrific touch with warm, appealing themes, and Father of the Bride is one of his best. Is it corny? Of course! Is it overly sweet and sentimental? Absolutely! Might it sound almost unbearably cheesy to contemporary audiences? For sure. But I love it anyway. An expanded score might be night at some point down the line, despite the fact that it might send unwary listeners into a saccharine coma.

Buy the Father of the Bride soundtrack from the Movie Music UK Store

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (2:36)
  • Annie’s Theme (0:48)
  • Drive to Brunch (1:40)
  • Snooping Around (0:46)
  • Pool Cue (1:00)
  • $250 a Head (0:22)
  • Annie Asleep (0:48)
  • Basketball Kiss (0:51)
  • The Wedding (1:10)
  • Snow Scene (1:21)
  • Nina at the Stairs (0:33)
  • The Big Day (1:00)
  • Annie at the Mirror (1:05)
  • Pachelbel Canon (from ‘Canon and Gigue in D’ written by Johann Pachelbel) (4:46)
  • The Way You Look Tonight (written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, performed Steve Tyrell) (3:05)
  • My Annie’s Gone (0:45)
  • The Way You Look Tonight – Reprise (written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, performed by Steve Tyrell) (2:00)
  • End Credits (3:10)

Running Time: 27 minutes 46 seconds

Varese Sarabande VSD-5348 (1991)

Music composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri. Orchestrations by William Ross and Chris Boardman. Recorded and mixed by Dennis Sands, Bruce Botnick and Robert Fernandez . Edited by Katherine Quittner. Album produced by Alan Silvestri.

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