Family. It’s something we all have in some shape or form. With family often comes traditions and customs that they hold dear to their hearts. And nearly fifteen years ago we had a movie that harped on all these qualities called My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This cultural romantic comedy swept many off there feet and brought fun to being Greek. After leaving us with such a nice ending you would hope the tale would end, but of course Hollywood can’t help but find any opportunity to make a sequel. This weekend the family you love is back and bigger than ever. But after such a long hiatus, does the Portokalos family still have the magic or has it dried up like the olives. Please read on to hear my opinions.
In terms of originality, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is certainly lacking in this department. Toula’s story centers on a middle aged woman finding happiness as she struggles to juggle being a wife, a daughter and a mother. Throughout the 90 minute run time, the woman get many lessons in love, life, and family as she copes with the insane amount of stress everyone puts on her. Amidst the main tale are a few funny side plots that help develop a few of the supporting cast, all conveniently intertwined to involve our leading lady in some form or manner. Whatever tale you may or may not fall in love with, let it be known that the endings are all predictable thanks to the theme of growing up and moving on.
Regardless of the predictability, the presentation of it is spot on. The importance of family, forgiveness, and love are well-represented in the scenes and sequences of the movie. Instead of the cheesy, over the top, fantasy bologna many films like to sell (aka Nicholas Sparks), My Big Fat Greek Wedding Two decides to show a more realistic side of things. The family is relatable, with a cast of characters that are certain to remind you of someone in your life. All the badgering, customs, and cultural references will surely make you laugh or cringe, as the family unleashes their unhindered pride onto the audience. Yeah there is some preachy moments that try to make you cry, but luckily these moments are shown for a limited time. For me, this kept the movie fun and allowed me to finally enjoy cinema romance once again.
Yet what the movie lacks in originality, it makes up for in cuteness. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 follows its predecessor in terms of R rated comedy presented in PG/PG-13 terms. They drop the aggressive rants and vulgarity for a wittier presentation of innuendos and let the actors delivery sell the lines. Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) was a heavy favorite, focusing her jokes heavily on sex, but somehow making it classy. Grandpa Gus (Michael Constantine) brings the stubborn, elder charm you saw in the first film that is both frustrating and charming at the same time. And as for Mana-Yiayia (Bess Meisler) she was adorable and perhaps my favorite comedic relief. The small woman was a blend of modernism and Greek tradition that didn’t involve corny one-liners or over emphasized dialogue, but instead a simplistic and well-timed approach was more than capable of maximizing the laughs, sort of like a silent Sophia Patrilla of the Golden Girls. Of course like many things in movies, sometimes the jokes get overdone and this film has its jokes that go a little too far at times to get stale. All in all though, things stay pretty well balanced and fun, which is perfect for most families.
There isn’t too much more to say on My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 except for commenting on the acting. Nia Vardalos leads the cast and does a great job playing the neurotic role she mastered, easily bridging the transition from girlfriend to mom. She’s funny and erratic, which helps you fall in love with her again. Lainie Kazan reprises her role as Maria, and manages to make over the top, over accented greek wives fun once more. And even the teenage Elena Kampouris manages to play her part well, managing to capture the teenage angst of a frustrated daughter without crossing over into the annoying territory. The rest of the cast does its job well, some better than others, but our casting director certainly succeeded in bringing a group together who really feels like a Greek family. And even more impressive is how everyone gets their fair share of screen time and involvement in the second wedding, without short sighting key characters.
In all honesty, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a fun movie that takes a step back into the family friendly zone. While it certainly isn’t the most exciting or original piece of work ,this movie is a realistic portrayal of family dynamics. There is certainly something for most people to grab on to and provide them with the laughs that we grew up on. Those who have ties to Mediterranean culture are going to be the ones who enjoy the film. Is it worth a trip to the theaters? In my opinion, the answer is No. This movie could have fit right at home with a Hallmark or Netflix home. However, if you are looking for a cute group or family film, then by all means give it a shot, otherwise save your dough and reserve it for home.
My scores for this film are:
Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0 (more so because the overzealous jokes, pace, and predictability took away points for me.