When Father of the Bride the novel came out in 1949 author Edward Streeter couldn’t have imagined a 2022 film iteration featuring a Cuban American family but we love to see this representation as part of such a beloved film franchise. The third film adaption stars Cuban American Andy Garcia as patriarch Billy Herrera, a role previously played by Spencer Tracy (1950) and Steven Martin (1991), who is struggling with his beloved daughter’s impending nuptials. Billy, a Cuban exile who worked his way up to an upper-class life in Miami as an architect, goes through the various stages played out in the films before – shock, dismay, anger, grief, and finally acceptance. This time though, he’s simultaneously going through a different kind of emotional turmoil with the implosion of his marriage to Ingrid, played by icon and fellow Cuban American Gloria Estefan who brings heart and empathy to the role. Screenwriter Matt Lopez tells HipLatina that while he loved the previous films, he wanted to add a new element to the story itself and that was the reasoning behind the broken marriage. “It adds a whole new element of farce to the movie. Can Andy and Gloria avoid killing each other long enough to walk their daughter down the aisle? And might they even fall back in love in the process?”
Lopez, who is of Cuban descent, grew up in Florida and says he attended many Cuban American weddings that provided fond memories as well as material for the film. His own marriage of two different cultures was also an inspiration for Sofia (Adria Arjona) and Adan (Diego Boneta), who is of Mexican descent, The film explores some of the culture clash including a scene where the respective parents talk about the struggles of raising Spanish-speaking children as immigrants. Another aspect that’s pulled from modern-day real life is the issue of the Mexican border crisis mentioned through Sofia’s work as a nonprofit lawyer set on moving to Mexico. She’s career-driven, independent, and a modern woman who went so far as to propose to Adan herself, in many ways their relationship is the foil to the more traditional dynamic between Ingrid and Billy.
“I think she has always dreamt of being a CEO of a company or the head lawyer at a firm. And then she meets someone that is incredibly supportive, lets her shine, is her equal,” Arjona tells HipLatina. “And that is what Gloria and Andy’s characters are trying to understand. Sofie is a modern woman; she is the bride of today’s day and age.”
The 30-year-old Puerto Rican actress enjoyed the evolution of the character, whom she says has to constantly explain herself to her family since her return home, something she believes many young people can relate to. Arjona also loved the cross-generational focus of this version and the dynamic between father and daughter where this time, he learns from her. “How the dad was conserving traditions, and how his daughter wanted to break them. I loved that women were the catalysts that got the father to move on and evolve.”
While Ingrid wants to see the world and enjoy life after having raised two daughters together, Billy is devoted to his work. He’s also coming to terms with the life he envisioned for his daughter versus the reality that’s being set before him. Finding his way to who he wants to be as a father and husband is the journey his character takes with the wedding being the vehicle for his transformation, which turns out to be a pivotal moment for all three Herrera women, not just the bride.
Isabela Merced, who is of Peruvian descent, plays Cora, Sofia’s younger sister, and this time the younger sibling is a bit more fleshed out and complicated than the 1991 version. She’s an aspiring fashion designer who wants the creative freedom of having her own business. We see her struggle to design and make her sister’s wedding dress while also trying to, as Arjona mentioned, explain to her father her professional goals in life. Merced credits Mexican director Gaz Alazraki with the development of not just Cora but every character in the film.
“I think part of the reason why this character got to be so well rounded as much as she is thanks to Gaz who took his time curating each character. And he made each character so lovable because they were so real, and relatable, and full and not just two dimensional. And for that reason, I wanted to join and it was incredible,” she tells HipLatina.
Merced shares that she connected with Cora’s rebellious nature and she believes life is “meant to be spontaneous and chaotic. Embrace the craziness, and you’ll be living a full life.” But while embracing the messiness is something Cora and Sofia do well to an extent, this film itself embraces the chaos to find a lesson in it. From the messiness of the wedding to the extravagance of Adan’s millionaire father (Pedro Damián) in contrast to Billy’s more refined vision, to Ingrid and Billy’s marital strife, there is a lot of tension to cut through before we get to the heart of it all.
True to form, we get that father-daughter moment that is essential to the film but throughout the movie it’s Estefan that brings that maternal love that grounds the film. Both Merced and Chloe Fineman, who plays the wedding planner, agree that one of the best moments of filming was when Estefan held a welcome party at her home in Miami for the cast and crew. “The world would be a much better place if she was everyone’s mom, she’s great,” Merced told us
That unity and celebration is also evident in the film itself in the culmination when we finally get to see The Wedding and these two families, who are similar but still different, come together. For Lopez, that’s really what this film is about – family and the celebration of our culture.
“I’ve spent most of my adult life in LA, where people just assume from my last name that I’m Mexican American and I must have grown up eating Mexican food. So, I knew from the beginning that food would play a big role. Also, music — the battle between the mariachis and the Cuban orchestra and the eventual coming together of the musical traditions,” Lopez says. “That’s what this version of Father of the Bride is all about. As Latinos, we are not a uniculture. We have our own unique elements, but also many commonalities of which we can all be proud.”
Merced echoes those sentiments sharing that she believes Latinx audiences will appreciate how the differences are “highlighted because we’re used to being put in one box” and she hopes that all cultures will enjoy the film. “There’s differences, and they’re all beautiful and they’re celebrated. Chloe was unfamiliar to this community, and she embraced it as much as we embraced her. And it was, I think, if you’re open to embracing this movie, like Chloe did, you will have a great time.”
Father of the Bride is available to stream on HBO Max June 16