It is kind of surprising HOW MANY movies are actually based on novels. I had no clue that Father of the Bride was based on a book that was released in 1949! I will admit, I have only seen the Steve Martin version of the film, though the earlier make would be fun to watch also. When I realised, I decided it simply HAD to make it onto my list of Book vs Movie reviews.
It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these, and this is the first time I’m doing a more in depth blog post about it, so let’s get into things!
For a change, this book didn’t feel like it had been condensed for the movie. Normally, you get the distinct feeling of a compressed storyline for film, which is totally understandable. You don’t often get the time constraint for a novel, whereas a movie takes place in 1.5-2 hours. Even though not all the same antics take place, you don’t feel like the story missed out on several key factors. I think the main reason for this, was because the book was actually quite short. It was only 230 pages, and covered a lot of wedding aspects.
Which leads me to the next point, not every moment in the book was copied in the film/s, BUT the main points and themes were. I will admit that in the book, I missed certain film elements (which I will cover next), but for the most part the gist of the story was taken across into a film format. It’s a good example of a movie doing WELL by the book – though I have only watched the Steven Martin movie for this comparison, so I couldn’t say about the others.
One thing that I will say, is that I MISSED Franck! One of my favourite element of the film, was Martin Short’s portrayal of the difficult to understand and over the top wedding coordinator. The closest we got to this character in the book, was a snobish caterer – but he wasn’t nearly as interesting.
In terms of the characters we did still have, there were some notable changes. The names for one thing. Though the last name “Banks” was the same, all the first names (and the surname for the fiancé) were different. Not such a huge deal, but different none the less.
Also, the character of the daughter (Annie for the movie, and Kay for the book) was a lot more immature, whiny, and bratish. I didn’t like her in the book, but not because she was an unlikable person – we didn’t actually develop her character outside the wedding, so it would be hard to like or dislike her at all – just that she seemed so unsophisticated as a supposed adult.
Because this book was written in the 40s, the language is more “old world” and uptight. This is always a challenge for me to read, as it isn’t my preferred style. I also noticed that there was A LOT of italics used (somewhat like me using CAPITALS a bunch so far in this post.. but worse). The writer, Edward Streeter, seemed obsessed with italics.
A great feature in the book, were the illustrations. Almost every page or two, there was an image of Mr Banks and party in the various antics from that or the previous page. It gave the book a light and humorous feel which was quite nice.
Finally, and most important (in my view) was the theme of Fathers and Daughters in the context of weddings. This is where, I believe, the movie did a much better job than the book. The whole story is focussed on a father helping his daughter and wife put together a wedding. The character of Mr Banks, in both iterations, was somewhat frustrating. They were worried about the money, the damage, the number of guests, and making the day special for their daughter. Though they were different in many ways, that was a constant. However, I feel like the character in the book lost the heart that Steve Martin put into Banks for the film.
It really did come down to how much he loved his daughter, and wanted her to have the best in life and in her wedding day. There were a lot more comedic and neurotic moments in the film, which I think were best placed in the film with a comedic timing. Though I admit it was better for that format, I do miss that element in the book. Less prudent and sensible, and more neurotic and falling into pools is what I say!
Okay, so let’s do an overall thoughts to finish this post off. I think, though the book had some great points, the movie wins hands down. It had more heart, more humour and more Franck! I did enjoy seeing some of the different points and aspects the book take (particularly from the perspective of a 50s style wedding), but the film just had something the book did not.
Props to both! If you want to see my filmed thoughts, check out the video here:
See You in the Adventures!