My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) opens by telling us that as a Greek woman she has three responsibilities, “1) Marry a Greek boy. 2) Have lots of Greek children. 3) Make lots of food.” Toula works in her family’s restaurant letting life pass her by, while her father pleads with her to get married even though she is already “old” at 30. It doesn’t seem like that day will ever come for Toula, nor is she looking forward to it, until a handsome stranger (John Corbett, Aidan from Sex and the City) catches her eye in the restaurant. Through more encounters the two seem to have sparks flying off from the heat they generate. He pops the question and Toula happily says yes. There’s only one slight problem – he’s not Greek.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding isn’t anything provocative or innovative but it does have its charming moments and engaging humor. These “ethnic family comedies” are really a double edged sword to work with. You see, they will exaggerate the cultural eccentric-ness of the characters to the point of gross parody but then rely on them to become endearing lovable characters who the audience appreciates for the very same reasons it’s laughing at them. And while Greek Wedding can be found guilty of this notion as well it really does take someone from the inside to come up with this stuff, so there must be some love there to start with.
Vardalos, who also wrote the script, is a perfect casting choice exactly because of her everyday looks. This isn’t someone like Jennifer Aniston trying to pull off being poor and un-pretty; this is a normal looking gal pulling off normal. It works exceptionally and Vardalos certainly knows how to hit a joke. The supporting cast of goofy yet lovable Greeks is played with admirable gusto by the many assembled players. A favorite of mine is the elderly grandmother who continues to try and escape from their home. And yes, an N’SYNC member is in this movie. Why I will never know. Is he even Greek? Is “Fatone” a Greek name?
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a big helping of family comedy and easy to see why it’s become as crowd pleasing as it is. It’s nothing new or extravagant, but hey, I’d easily go see this again than ever venture close to a theater showing XXX or Blue Crush or Pluto Nash or The Master of Disguise or…
Nate’s Grade: B