The ‘Father of the Bride 3’ Gay Marriage Plot Sounds Totally Outdated

Father of the BrideBuena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection

Twenty-one years ago, we watched a homophobic Denzel Washington warm up to his fellow lawyer and client Tom Hanks, a gay man afflicted with AIDS, over the course of a criminal case that proved that America was no easy place for a homosexual gentleman to make a living or lead his life. And at the end of this story called Philadelphia, that no-longer-homophobic Denzel Washington was a hero. The sort of man who harbored “completely sympathetic” sentiments at the start, but graduated to sentiments altogether admirable. That’s the sort of world we lived in back in 1993. But these 21 years later, we live in the sort of world that would take a homophobic Denzel Washington and cast him into villainy, redemptive arc or not. Which is why the plot of Disney’s Father of the Bride 3, of all things, sounds about a decade or so too late.

The threequel to Steve Martin’s family comedies Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995) will have the snow-capped comedic dynamo lamenting the realization that his son Matt (played in the first two films by young Kieran Culkin, now age 29) is gay and engaged to a man. Nikki Finke’s blog reports the premise, explaining that Martin’s uptight-but-affable family man George Banks will this time be “thunderstruck and speechless” and none too keen on the revelation of his son’s sexual orientation. Although George’s wife Nina (Diane Keaton) plays the voice of reason in casting her thick-headed husband out of the house, so reports Finke, we’re still looking at a severely outdated mentality in the approach of the subject.

Father of the BrideBuena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection

Although homophobia is a far, far cry from absent in today’s America, the media (including a few of Disney’s own properties) seems to embrace the idea that anyone advertising prejudice against gay men and women is acting in the name of ignorance, idiocy, and injustice, not the “acceptable hesitations” of eras past. No longer do we live in the Philadelphia days when a character like Washington’s attorney Joe Miller might be seen as sympathetic in spite (or perhaps in light) of his bigotry. Today, the homophobes of film and TV are the bad guys. Although heteronormativity remains a problem coursing through our media, abject hatred is aligned with criminal characters. How can we accept our own George Banks in his role as put-upon good guy with such a nasty proclivity for intolerance?

And why is it necessary in a movie about gay marriage for any figure to express disfavor with the wedding at hand? Of course it would be ridiculous to deny extant hardships faced by the gay community, but we’ve also breached an era wherein the notion of a family accepting a member’s profession of homosexuality without pause is hardly implausible. The Philadelphias of past helped to align the sympathies of viewing audiences with gay men and women, to point out the wickedness in the time’s all-too-prevalent defamy. What we need now from our movies is to induct gay relationships into their depiction of normalcy. To show that the same love, happiness, drama, and comedy that we see in films like Father of the Bride would exist in a story about two men tying the knot. Even this notion seems too obvious to point out, but clearly Disney doesn’t quite think so.