A Review of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
In 2002, Nia Vardalos scored a surprise hit movie when My Big Fat Greek Wedding struck a chord with the film-going public. It became, during its theatrical run, the highest grossing independent film of all time. While she has continued to work, Vardalos has never enjoyed the same success she did with that film, which she initially created as a one-woman stage show. She has returned to the material that gave her her biggest success in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Set some ten years after the end of the first movie, Vardalos is Toula Portakalos Miller, who still works at her father's Chicago restaurant. When she's not working, she spends a lot of time volunteering at the high school her daughter Paris (Elena Kompouris) attends. Toula's husband Ian (John Corbett) serves as the principal. On top of that, she even takes her father Gus (Michael Constantine) to the therapy sessions he needs following his hip surgery.
Paris also has been looking at places to attend college, and the senior has been accepted at both Northwestern and New York University. While Toula and Ian haven't pressed the issue, others in her family get the idea to set up Paris with a nice Greek boy. Their efforts result in an embarrassing failure. However, Paris takes a chance of her own when she sees Bennett (Alex Wolff), a fellow student she barely knows, having a bad moment when he tries to ask a girl he likes to the prom. Meanwhile, Gus spends some of his free time learning how to use a computer with Toula's help. He wants to investigate his family ancestry and prove to his therapy buddies that he can trace his family history to Alexander the Great. in his search, Gus discovers some bad news.
The trailer doesn't tell the whole wedding story, so neither will I. I will say, though, that the wedding planning does include Toula, her mother Maria (Lainie Kazan), and most of the members of their extended family. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 brings back all of the main players of the ensemble cast, including Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula, Joey Fatone as Voula's son Angelo, and Bruce Gray and Fiona Reid as Ian's parents, Rodney and Harriet. Vardalos herself wrote this sequel, and once again offers a pleasant slice of ethnic heritage and closeness of family. One of be funnier moments comes when the ladies go to a wedding planner, who quits on them when they think bigger than she does. The biggest problem comes at the film's climax, when two big events coincide. Certainly, all of the family should be at the wedding, but that doesn't happen. The movie series, though, plays more for laughs than for sense, and succeeds in delivering humor. Kirk Jones, whose directing credits include the comedies Waking Ned Devine and the first Nanny McPhee movie, marks the only major change from the first film, taking over from Joel Zwick. Jones does what he needs to do to keep the events funny and well-paced.
I must admit I have not seen any other of Vardalos's onscreen movie appearances besides her performances as Toula (though I have seen Larry Crowne, where she had a voice only role). In these movies, though, she has brought her ethnic experience to light in an enjoyable way. In the opening sequence, Toula shows just how close-knit her blood relatives are, as they live on the same block. Toula keeps her good nature in most situations, save for the time when she catches the ever-critical and nosy Mrs. White (Jayne Eastwood) making snide remarks when paramedics come to the house to check on a minor health issue. Constantine is still enjoyable as the proud and Windex-wielding Gus, while Martin delivers sage advice with love as Aunt Voula. Kampouris is fine as Paris, the daughter who respects her heritage while learning to be her own woman. Bess Meisler, as Mama Yiayia, has just one line, but delivers laughs as she decides to enjoy any place the family visits, which includes her posing as a human mannequin in a store window. Vardalos's real-life husband, Ian Gomez, reprises his role as Ian's friend Mike. Rita Wilson, who's had a production hand in both MBFGW movies, makes a brief appearance as Anna, the wife of a TV anchorman named George (John Stamos) that the Portakalos and Miller families meet at church.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 doesn't say much new about its characters, but the film compensates by keeping the characters consistent to their ways. I suppose that Toula and her family are much like other families in this way as they grow older together and remain true to themselves. This family is a group of old acquaintances for those who saw the first installment, and I was glad I got to see these folks again. It's a fun and good-natured look at a family who takes togetherness to a higher level than most. As Paris told Bennett, she never joined the Greek Club at school because she lives it at home. That club will endure long after the young ones graduate and contribute to it.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 three stars. Say "Opaa!" again.