The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Wednesday, December 13, 1995           TAG: 9512130037
TYPE: Movie Review 
                                             LENGTH: Medium:   78 lines


WHEN ONE BABY was enough, two might be too much.

No matter. As a 1990s remake of a 1951 family movie, ``Father of the Bride, Part II'' seems to express the conventional opinion that the '90s love excess.

The result is a harmless and likable chronicle of double (mother and daughter) pregnancies in a well-heeled family. If anything, it is better than the 1991 version, but not nearly as comforting and cajoling as the more realistic 1950 or 1951 versions (``Father of the Bride'' and ``Father's Little Dividend,'' starring Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett and Elizabeth Taylor). The earlier films were not cast with comic actors. The humor came from droll reactions to everyday occurrences.

Everything is broadly played in this new sequel, directed by Charles Dryer. With Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as the parents, it all seems so manufactured. Their past images, in spite of the 1991 ``Bride'' movie, work against them.

Martin, after all, was the ``wild and crazy guy'' of stand-up comedy, and and is fatherless in real life. As Annie Hall, Keaton was the epitome of the '70s la-de-dah carefree style. Here, they face issues such as menopause and aging.

The Banks family, having made it through the wedding, now face the pregnancy of their daughter with mixed feelings. Dad is shocked that his little girl has gone away forever and that her husband has ``done this'' to her.

In ``Father's Little Dividend,'' it was enough to have Mr. and Mrs. Banks arguing with the in-laws about the baby's name, or having grandpa lose the little tyke while baby-sitting. Moments like that, the new producers felt, wouldn't keep 1990s audiences still. So they added the ploy that granddad-to-be gets panicked about old age, dyes his hair, buys a new wardrobe and gets his wife pregnant.

As a result, we have two women in labor, a mad dash to the hospital and lines about how nice it is that one set of parents will be eligible for both child and senior admissions to the movies in a few years.

Martin, always a major and inventive talent, is quite funny at mocking his character - almost in the droll style of Spencer Tracy, though broader. Keaton, thankfully, has a little more to do (namely, give birth) than she did in the first film. In ``Father of the Bride,'' her contribution was so minor that she sometimes seemed like a mere wedding guest.

Both stars are marking time here - selling out to commercialism before they, hopefully, try something that suits their inventive natures.

Kimberly Williams is back as the bride with George Newbern returning as her new husband. He's quite good in the thankless role of a husband trying to please both families. Kiernan Culkin, (younger brother of Macaulay) gets more than his share of laughs as the little kid who sees through all the adults' foolishness.

It is a bit of a stretch, though, to have Martin Short return as the flamboyant, giddy wedding planner Franck Egglehoffer. In an all-out effort to recreate a hit, this script has Franck come back to plan a double baby shower. Who ever hires a planner to organize a baby shower?

Mark this as a likable and comforting version of the American family. After all the down-and-out urban jungles we've visited recently in the movies, perhaps something can be said for excesses on the other side of the ledger. ILLUSTRATION: MOVIE REVIEW

``Father of the Bride, Part II''

Cast: Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short, Kimberly

Williams, George Newbern, Kiernan Culkin, B. D. Wong

Director: Charles Shyer

Screenplay: Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers

Music: Alan Silvestri

MPAA rating: PG (brief sexual references, mild language)

Mal's rating: two and 1/2 stars

Locations: Greenbrier in Chesapeake; Circle 4, Main Gate in

Norfolk; Columbus, Lynnhaven Mall, Surf-N-Sand in Virginia Beach

by CNB