- on Friday, 25 March 2016 15:34
- by Frank Wilkins
14 years is a long time. It’s an especially long wait for a movie sequel to happen. But that’s how long it’s been since we last visited the Portokalos family in 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A whole new generation has come of age, and even another has long since forgotten the light-hearted chuckles and uncomfortable situations that arose when cultures clashed in Nia Vardalos’s story of a young Greek woman who fell in love with a non-Greek and struggled to get her brash family to accept him while coming to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.
As expected, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 has a lot in common with its predecessor that went on to eventually become the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. Too much, in fact.
It became clear early on that we were in for a mirthless rehash when the first line in the new film was the exact same one that opened the original. And that’s not all. Nearly everything else features the same recycled jokes and tired retreads of the broad Greek stereotypes that caught us pleasantly off guard the first time. There’s a difference between clever little nods of familiarity and extended scenes of revisited material. Unfortunately we get more of the latter than the former. There’s nothing new to see here, folks. Move along.
The new story jumps forward 10 years from the last time we saw the Portokalos family. Toula (Vardalos, who also writes) has been married to Ian (John Corbett) for a long time and, because of family duties and work responsibilities, their marriage lacks the same park it once did. Flying in the face of her Greek family’s prejudiced thoughts of what constitutes a good Greek girl, Toula and Ian have allowed their young headstrong daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) to grow up a determined independent woman capable of making her own decisions.
Naturally, this rubs the wrong way with Toula’s father, Gus (Michael Constantine) who hasn’t let go of his old world conception that Greek women are put on the Earth to get married and make babies. “You’d better get married soon. You’re starting to look old,” he harps to the 17 year old.
It’s these generational clashes and cultural stereotypes that form the backbone of the humor on display in MBFGW2. Nearly the same generational clashes and cultural stereotypes that brought an endearing freshness to the original, I might add. For instance, Toula lives next door to her parents and on the same block as her other relatives which means morning carpooling involves a stop and a honk at each house on the block.
And nearly every one of the numerous subplots including Cousin Angelo (Joey Fatone) who’s afraid to come out to his family, Gus’s insistence that nearly everything in this world – including Facebook – emerged from the Greeks, and the titular plot thread that involves an unsigned marriage license, are worked around these same boilerplated stereotypes of a loud boisterous Greek family where everybody yells, and no one is off limits to ridicule. Ok, we get it. Greek families are loud and their elders are chauvinistic. But I refuse to believe that family problems can be cured simply by buttering garlic bread.
Standing out amongst the film’s numerous flaws is the bright spark of Vardalos who carries her character with a wide-eyed alertness and endearing charm that brightens every scene she’s in. That she looms so distinctly over the cacophonous mess of her pushy family is both a testament to her charm and a brutal indictment of everyone else around her. She actually makes the film worth watching. Had Vardalos the writer explored some new themes and a fresh new angle, she might have found something. But as it is, let’s just call this wedding off.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive material
Runtime: 94 mins
Director: Kirk Jones
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine
Genre: Drama | Comedy
Tagline: Every day of my life is Greek club
Memorable Movie Quote: "You'd better get married soon. You're starting to look old."
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Official Site: http://www.mybigfatgreekweddingmovie.com/
Release Date: March 26, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: No details available.
Synopsis: A Portokalos family secret brings the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding.
No details available.