The “BIG FAT…WEDDING” idea has become a reality TV show catch-phrase these days. But, back in the early 2000s it was comedy gold in the form of the charming My Big Fat Greek Wedding, starring comedian and writer Nia Vardalos, and a cast that included Andrea Martin, Michael Constantine, John Corbett and Bruce Grey. The film, based on Nia’s own family experience tells the story of Toula Portulakos, a single 30-year-old, born from Greek immigrants whose family is huge and in everyone’s business. She has forever lived with the old-world Greek traditions and gets daily affirmations from her father (Constantine) that she is too old not to be married. She gets tired one day of working in the family restaurant and decides to enroll in community college to take “computer skills” and soon becomes gainfully employed at her aunt’s travel agency. Big changes are afoot too when she meets and quickly becomes engaged to College Professor, Ian (Corbett). She is soon in the thick of Greek Wedding central, courtesy of her intrusive but loving family who make decisions on aspects of her wedding without much input from her.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is one of those mindless movies that I gladly tune in to if I see it’s on. Entertaining and cute, I never identified with Toula or her family, having been raised in a very small family myself. But, I loved the family dynamic the movie depicted. The cast was fantastic, especially Michael Constantine who played the patriarch, Gus, who believed firmly that Windex cures every problem in existence, and his constant belief that every word can be traced back to Greek. Let’s not forget Andrea Martin, the consummate comedienne, who played Toula’s aunt hilariously.
I know I am supposed to talk about the sequel to this movie, but let’s just say My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 caught me by surprise. They made a sequel out of this? Seriously, do we need a sequel?? I don’t think so…said I when I saw the movie in the guide recently. But, I was curious, so I watched it. And it’s not bad for a sequel…if you don’t expect much from it going in.
In part 2 we are 15 years into the future from the first film. Toula and her husband have a 17 year old daughter, Paris, set to go to College. Toula is back in a rut, working at the family restaurant since the travel agency she worked for closed down. Her parents are still working, and as feisty as ever. Her Windex-loving dad is still up to shenanigans, and out to prove a theory that he is a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. While filling up info on an ancestry website, he checks out his marriage certificate, and discovers it was never signed by a priest, therefore making his 50 year old marriage to his wife null and void. There ensues the crux of the title. People, we have another wedding to plan! The family springs into action, and, well, yeah! There you go; that is basically the film.
Now, I can hear the crowd moaning at the plot, but bear with me. I thought this wasn’t bad as a sequel. The entire cast from the first movie reprised their roles (including Yia Yia the grandma who was old even back then!). I thought there was something charming and comforting in the familiarity of the plot. I knew what to expect, I even knew how it would end. There was even another cheesy wedding planning montage that included the family taking to the streets in track suits.
So, there was a lot of mirroring of the first film. But, the plot also dove into young Paris’s perspective growing up in such a big family, with the same expectations for marriage and family that Gus had bestowed on her own mother. Paris tries her best to pull away and assert independence, while Toula looks on trying with all her might not to dote or cling too much. This plot turn with Paris was sweet, and struck a nice flavour from what could have been a very bland film. There are other tiny surprises touched on within the film that closed the circle on some characters’ lives from the last film that also made the story told a little more complete.
I akin My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 to something like a sitcom reboot: It wasn’t necessary, but I’m glad they took a stab at it. It was entertaining and I enjoyed the ride.
3 Spanokopitas out of 5.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Starring Nia Vardalos, Michael Constantine and Andrea Martin