Fifteen years ago, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the sleeper hit of 2002. It was virtually every single person’s family from the Mediterranean world, mine included.
I remember sitting at my cousin’s house when the DVD came out; just a small gathering of maybe 20 of us, with my uncle, who was not only the family patriarch but also a deacon in the Greek Orthodox Church and how he couldn’t figure out why we were laughing so hard. His response when I asked what his thoughts were, “I don’t understand why you think this is so funny. All they want is for her to get married, but not to him!”
We cackled hysterically as we were figuring out which character was the perfect representation of which cousin in a film that was about immigrants adjusting to life in the new world as well as being what the overly politically correct people like to call, “bi-cultural.” For fifteen years, My Big Fat Greek Wedding mirrored my life and gave Anglos an idea of how what was strange to them, was life to us.
Now, we arrive at My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, a highly anticipated sequel that gave me another chance to laugh at myself, my family and to know that living in a heavily populated Anglo area, I was not alone.
Unfortunately, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, had some funny yet forgettable moments. There were far too many throwback jokes to the original that tarnished the legacy by turning it into just an average comedy without building on the original or creating a world of new memories. It faltered just as poorly as the spin-off television series My Big Fat Greek Life did in 2003.
The plot is very simple, but poorly executed. Costa (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan) find out that the priest in Greece didn’t sign the marriage certificate so “technically” they have been living in sin for the past 50 years. An ideology that would have suited the Roman Catholic Church more so than it would the Greek Orthodox Church. I took my mother with me as she adored the first one and her reaction was no different than mine.
“Eh, it was a little funny, but unfinished. There was something missing. They didn’t care enough about the daughter,” said mom after the screening.
Mom was absolutely right, the relationship between Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Paris (Elena Kampouris) was nonexistent. It was wonderful to find an actress who was half-Greek and half-Anglo to play someone who is half-Anglo and half-Greek, but beyond the teenage angst and reconnecting to her identity there wasn’t anything to their interactions.
Angelo (Joe Fatone) was turned into an old world stereotype of “Uh, he’s over 35 and not married. He must be gay,” and he was after the only hint being cousin Nick (Louis Mandlyor) wanting to hook Angelo up with a Dutch girl and he wasn’t interested.
Sadly, this is like a loose remake of Varadalos previous film, Helicopter Mom, a movie so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to write a review as I would have ripped into it, which would not have been fair to all the people that worked extremely hard in making that movie.
Andrea Martin as Voula stole the movie, but even the Armenian actress couldn’t save this floundering film from flat-lining in this one note wonder. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is far more designed for an Anglo crowd than an ethnic one. It was as if to say, “Okay, we made you guys really uncomfortable last go around, let’s add some cream to the coffee to dilute it for you.”
In fact, watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was like going to a kid’s second-grade music recital. Junior is more focused on getting the notes right than making music.
Oh yeah, John Stamos and Rita Wilson are in it because, well…they’re Greek, OPA! Along with some White Feminism ideology for good measure to ensure that Anglos would understand strong women were being presented to them instead of letting them be strong, female, ethnic characters.
If you like your movies dry, like toast, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens Friday, March 25, 2016.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is dry, like toast.