A Portokalos family secret brings the characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) was a breezy romp about a second generation immigrant, Toula (Nia Vardalos), breaking with tradition through the defiant act of marrying outside of the Greek diaspora. Much like Nick Giannopolous’ own local tradition of ‘wog’ comedy, it dressed up a basic rom-com conceit with big fat hair and bigger fatter stereotypes and, by Zeus, it worked a treat. The $6 million (US$5m) film reaped almost $500 million worldwide, and it holds dual records as both the biggest indie film and the biggest romantic comedy of all time.
The movie earned creator Vardalos an Oscar nomination (best original screenplay) and spawned an ill-fated TV spin-off, but 14 years after its release, the most memorable thing about My Big Fat Greek Wedding is its big fat box office.
Although no one seems to have asked for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, I suppose there’s logic to a film about relatives who show up when they’re not wanted spawning a sequel that acts the same way. (“Opa!”)
With her second film about the Portokalos family, Vardalos returns to the idea of legacy, in a central story about how much her own parenting skills have been influenced by her parents' generation. In a brief narration, we discover that Toula has become a clone of her own claustrophobic family, and that her neediness is smothering 17 year-old Paris (Elena Kampouris). Vardalos, clearly no fan of the “Show, don’t tell” mantra of scriptwriting, introduces most of the film’s many plots this way, by having a character announce the existence of a problem before we’ve witnessed any evidence of it.
Paris opts to attend an interstate college (To study what? Who knows) and her decision is taken as a big fat personal insult. Toula goes into a tailspin, and her funk draws attention to the rut that is forming in her own marriage to Ian (John Corbett, showing up sporadically to offer bland reassurances). However, that gets overshadowed by a big fat crisis in her own parents’ marriage, set off by a convoluted subplot that goes nowhere other than to expose the fact that Gus and Maria (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan) were never officially married.
No prizes for guessing which characters get the wedding in the title… it’s certainly not the character whose coming out is dealt with in a fraction of the screen time devoted to teaching Gus how to use a computer (There’s no room for such a vaguely original idea in this painfully unfunny carbon copy of its original).
Every other scene features a variation of the same worn sight gag, which imposes the Greek chorus of grandparents, aunties, cousins and the crafty matriarch, Yiayia, upon an unsuspecting outsider, or picks up a running joke about the miraculous healing powers of window cleaner.
The messy script rushes through resolutions to give everyone their own happy ending. With shrill predictability and faux-sincerity, this means that feuds are ended, vows are spoken, a cranky teen softens her eyeliner, and bitchy blondes get Baklava.