Universal Pictures 1 hour 34 minutes PG-13
The original My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a sleeper in 2002. No one knew what to expect. Chicagoan Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in the film based on growing up Greek with her close extended family. It cost $5 million to produce and has been called the top grossing, independent romantic comedy of all time. It made $370 million.
This one won’t do as well. First, because we know what to expect and Director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee, What to Expect When You’re Expecting), along with the script, has created a series of bits that doesn’t follow or flow very well. Second, because it’s up against Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
The original film is about a young, somewhat awkward Greek woman named Toula, who falls in love with non-Greek hunk, Ian (played by John Corbett.) The trials and tribulations of getting accepted into the family finally culminates in that big, fat, Greek wedding. It was heartwarming and hilarious.
Vardalos and Corbett were being interviewed on the 10th anniversary of the film. They had such a good time telling funny stories about making the film, Corbett popped the question. “Why don’t we do a sequel?”
So they did with Rita Wilson as Executive producer and her husband, Tom Hanks’ Production Company, which also produced the original. Wilson has a small part in this one as the wife of John Stamos who plays George, a Chicago TV media personality.
There are new additions along with Toula and Ian’s daughter, Paris, a moody teen played with perfection by Elena Kampouris. But the rest of the original cast is back together, a little older, but one big happy family.
All of the Greek stereotypes are there, from families living in houses side by side and running the family businesses together, to an abundance of Greek history, flags and colors everywhere. Everyone’s in everybody’s business, much to the dismay of young Paris whose Mom, Toula, is a Helicopter-Parent smothering her daughter. Paris is deciding on college and the family is pressuring her to stay in Chicago.
But whose wedding is it? Toula’s parents, Gus and Maria, played by Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan, (physically bigger than ever) find out they were never legally married. Uh oh. And the machinations to get them married for real lead to some tense, funny, and, finally, emotional situations.
Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula stands out, once again, as the gross, truth teller. No filter there which is why she is so funny. She was the one who brought the kind of surprises we saw in the first film.
One scene most people can probably relate to is the computer scene with old Gus trying to find out if he’s really a descendant of Alexander the Great. It took several family members to talk him through using the computer. Been there, done that.
There is an attempt to update with Joey Fatone (NSYNC), who comes out as gay in the film. And Toula’s Grandmother is pretty funny throughout, especially with her appearance at the wedding.
Is this worth your bucks? It’s cute but not a great film. There are extraneous scenes and characters that really don’t need to be there. You can tell that the cast had fun being back together. Vardalos looks frumpy for effect in the beginning and cleans up nicely. She looks fabulous, but some of her acting is uneven and falters. Corbett goes with the flow and they play well together. They have good chemistry and have actually been in 3 films together. We thought there were too many endings, one which could set up another wedding in a few years. But we wish this film had been a little better so we could shout “Opa!”