My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2


            The original, 13 years ago, was full of vitality and spunk; funny without being crass, and affirming of family values without being cheesy.  The sequel, alas, fails to capture the same magic as before, though it gamely tries to advance the story with many of the same characters.

            Nia Vardalos (who also wrote the script) reprises her role as Toula, who is definitely in “the sandwich generation”:  she’s responsible not only for raising her teenage daughter, Paris (the lovely Elena Kampouris), but she’s also still very tied in with her parents, who own the Greek restaurant where she still works (she tried a travel agency for a while, but it closed).  Her husband, Ian (John Corbett) is feeling a bit neglected, Paris is feeling smothered as she prepares to go off to college, and the parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan) not only play the domineering patriarch and matriarch with Toula, they do with the rest of the big family, as well.  Everyone is in everyone else’s business, which makes Paris want to go to college somewhere far away.  The latest crisis is that Gus has somehow discovered that his own wedding license was never signed---something about how chaotic things were in Greece after the War----and their current priest refuses to sign it without presiding over an actual ceremony.  In other words, they’ve been “living in sin” all this time, which means all the children are technically….never mind; does anybody even think that way anymore?

            Well, this big fat Greek family definitely is an uproar.  Maria decides that since Gus isn’t always nice to her, then he can just sleep on the couch until he comes up with a “real” proposal.  Once he does, she goes all-out for the big family wedding, complete with white dress, attendants, police cars serving as limos, and a raucous reception in the back yard? 

            Aside from the occasional humor with speaking Greek to the uninitiated, with the unexpected translation on the screen, the humor is mostly self-deprecating.  But Toula, along with Paris, and Maria, and even the old grandmother, all get to have their makeover bit, and look glamorous for a while.  Toula and Ian re-spark their romance, Paris finds a nice boy to go to prom with, and discovers that he’s Greek, also.  Gus and Maria, after a lot of blustering and posturing, resume their “opa” and “oma” roles, and this big, loud, boisterous, loving family can now live happily until the next crisis.

            It’s cute, but not hilarious.  It’s also harmless sitcom-type fun for all-family viewing, and sometimes those opportunities in modern cinema are few and far between.

Questions for Discussion:

1)                   Do you still think of couples co-habitating without benefit of wedlock as “living in sin”?

2)                  Did you want to go to college close to home, or someplace far away?  How did that work out?

3)                  Did you want your children to go to college close to home, or someplace far away?  How did that work out?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association