If the last wedding party scene in HBO Max’s “Father of the Bride” looks like an epic all-night party, it’s because it really was.
With a mariachi and a salsa band combining forces and cultures into a jamming version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” the dance cast was truly, as the song says, “up all night to the sun.”
“The wedding scene, we filmed it until seven in the morning,” says Gloria Estefan, who plays Andy Garcia’s wife for “The Bride’s Father” in the film (now streamed). “It was like we were really going to a wedding and dancing and having so much fun. It’s really coming through.”
Director Gary Alazraki says he probably could have stopped filming the heady dance at the wedding association for the film’s Cuban and Mexican families earlier. But the celebratory cast, including Garcia, Estefan and the screen’s newlyweds (Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta) continued to demand more live music.
“We ended up playing it over and over again because the actors kept asking for another song,” Alazraki says. “The line producer was about to lose it and said the neighbors would never want us back. But we played it until the mariachi and conga players almost fainted.”
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The idea for the unlinked dance ending arose during a birthday party for the cast Enrique Murciano during recordings.
“We all danced until late at night,” Alazraki says. “The next day (producer) Jeremy Kleiner said the spirit should be at the end. The infectious joy he felt at the party.”
Even with Estefan in his first lead film role, Alazraki never considered playing the singer’s ubiquitous wedding song “Conga” at the film’s wedding party.
“Believe me, if it had been any wedding party, especially a Cuban wedding, ‘Conga’ would have been played,” Estefan says. “But we would not suddenly throw people out of character. It would have changed the whole mood.”
Alazraki was shocked that Daft Punk allowed filmmakers to use “Get Lucky” because the now defunct electronic band does not “license songs for movies.”
“But they did for us,” he added.
The Mariachi and salsa bands had a previously recorded version, but they improvised on the set, which increased the tempo so that the actors could really move.
“It was this moment of joy,” Alazraki says. “I said to the cast: ‘You guys, dance!’ “
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In addition to a fantastic party song, the song highlights key themes for the “Bride” remake, including staying true to one’s cultural heritage.
“The song ends the film in a very tight tone, which is hopeful,” Alazraki says. “But the lyrics also say, ‘We have come too far to be over who we are,’ which speaks to this idea as immigrants come to America and wonder if they will lose their traditions and their identity.”
Fake champagne was used during toasts during the “Bride” wedding. However, the instructor suspects that some smuggled goods reached the last party as the night progressed.
“When it got late, were they able to crack the right things?” said Alazraki. “I do not know what happened behind the camera. I do not think they remained kosher throughout the production that night. Yes, they just had it too good.”
Late at night, the band finally gave up.
“The Mariachi band played until their fingers almost bled,” Alazraki says. “They gave one last stroke and said, ‘We’re done, we don’t have it in us anymore.’ Everyone laughed and hugged.”
The instructor went to take one last picture of the moon to mirror an earlier party moment.
“When we went to take that lunar image, we noticed that the sun was coming out,” Alazraki says. “It was morning. It was like, ‘Yeah, this is officially a Mexican wedding.’ “
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