If that final wedding party scene in HBO Max’s “Father of the Bride” looks like an epic all-night bash, that’s because it really was.
With a mariachi and a salsa band combining forces and cultures for a jamming version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” the dancing cast truly was, as the song says, “up all night ’til the sun.”
“That wedding scene, we shot it till seven in the morning,” says Gloria Estefan, who plays the wife of Andy Garcia’s “Father of the Bride” in the movie (now streaming). “It was like we really were at a wedding dancing and having so much fun. That really comes through.”
Director Gary Alazraki says he probably could have stopped filming the raucous dance at the wedding union of the movie’s Cuban and Mexican families earlier. But the celebrating cast, including Garcia, Estefan and the screen’s just-married couple (Adria Arjona and Diego Boneta) kept demanding more live music.
“We ended up playing it again and again because the actors kept asking for another song,” says Alazraki. “The line producer was losing it, saying that the neighbors are never going to have us back. But we played it until the mariachi and conga players almost passed out.”
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The idea for the unchained dance ending arose during a birthday party for cast member Enrique Murciano during filming.
“All of us were dancing late into the night,” Alazraki says. “The next day, (producer) Jeremy Kleiner said that spirit has to be in the ending. That infectious joy he was feeling at the party.”
Even with Estefan starring in her first lead movie role, Alazraki never considered playing the singer’s ubiquitous wedding anthem “Conga” in the movie nuptial bash.
“Believe me, if that had been any wedding party, especially a Cuban wedding, ‘Conga’ would have been played,” says Estefan. “But we didn’t wanna throw people out of the character all of a sudden. That would have changed the whole vibe.”
Alazraki was shocked that Daft Punk allowed filmmakers to use “Get Lucky” because the now-defunct electronic band doesn’t “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 set, speeding up the tempo to allow cast members to really move.
“It became this moment of joy,” Alazraki says. “I told the cast, ‘You guys, dance!’ “
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Besides a great party song, the song highlights key themes for the “Bride” remake, including staying true to one’s cultural heritage.
“The song ends the movie on a very tight note that’s hopeful,” Alazraki says. “But the lyrics also say, ‘We’ve come too far to be above who we are’ which speaks to these idea immigrants have coming to America, wondering if they’re gonna lose their traditions and their identity.”
Fake champagne was used during toasts during the “Bride” wedding. However, the director suspects some contraband made it into the final party as the night rolled on.
“As it got late, were they able to crack into the real stuff?” Alazraki said. “I don’t know what happened behind the camera. I don’t think they stayed kosher throughout the production that night. Yeah, they were just having too good a time.”
Late in the night, the band finally gave out.
“The mariachi band played until their fingers almost bled,” says Alazraki. “They gave a final strum and said, ‘We’re done, we don’t have it in us anymore.’ Everyone was laughing and hugging.”
The director went to take a final shot of the moon, to mirror an earlier party moment.
“When we went to take that moon shot, we noticed the sun was coming out,” says Alazraki. “It was morning. It was like, ‘Yeah, this is officially a Mexican wedding.’ “
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