DIR: Kirk Jones • WRI: Nia Vardalos • PRO: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson • DOP: Jim Denault • ED: Mark Czyzewski • DES: Gregory P. Keen • MUS: Christopher Lennertz • CAST: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine
For those unfamiliar with the original, My Big Fat Greek Wedding follows a Greek woman in her thirties struggling to break free from her traditionalist family. The romantic comedy saw surprising popularity and welcome success when it was released in 2002. Its long awaited follow-up, while flawed, is great for a light, fun-filled, girly movie outing.
The close-knit but often overbearing Portokalos family – which spans across uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents, children and cousins – returns in triumph with its members as funny and loveable as ever. In this film, matriarch Maria (Lainie Kazan) and patriarch Gus (Michael Constantine) discover their marriage contract was never signed and, therefore, they are not legally wed. The couple begin a feud which can only be resolved through the organisation of – you’ve guessed it – another big fat Greek wedding.
Nia Vardalos, who also penned this film and its predecessor (as well as the TV series, My Big Fat Greek Life, which came in between), returns as Toula. Toula is the daughter of Maria and Gus, and was the bride-to-be in the first movie. While in the prequel, she struggled to get a job away from the family restaurant Dancing Zorba’s, to break free from her Greek heritage, and to gain independence from her overbearing parents, here Toula has evidently come to totally embrace her irrepressible family and quirky but wholesome culture. Although her father initially hesitated to accept her non-Greek fiancé, Ian (John Corbett – Sex and the City), the two are now happily married and have a seventeen year old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who Gus now turns his attentions to settling down with ‘a nice Greek boy’, much to Paris’ and Toula’s distress.
In fact, while Toula makes out that she is less ‘extreme’ and more modern than the rest of her clan, it becomes quickly apparent that she can be just as overbearing in her over-protective attitude towards Paris. Toula is still the klutz we know and love but now, middle-aged, she finds herself faced with different problems, such as taking care of her increasingly immobile father, taking care of Paris, who faces the daunting task of choosing a college to go to after graduation, and trying to reignite passion into her marriage with Ian.
Those who weren’t fans of the first will find little of interest here but those who have been won over by the Portokalos household will find this return to the gang delightful. John Corbett gives another sweet and charming turn as loyal husband Ian, while Andrea Martin goes all-out in this second round as Aunt Voula, even funnier and more outrageous than she was before. Elena Kampouris is a welcome addition to the cast, and there is a role for everyone in the expansive family to play, no part feeling spare.
While it can be a little slapstick-y, Nia Vardolos puts such discernible, infectious love into her work (both in performing the role and writing the screenplay) that it is a pleasure to watch. The hilarity of everyday life and the madness of extended families are tactfully captured. Comedy-wise, however, its jokes can be hit-and-miss.
12A (See IFCO for details)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is released 25th March 2016