My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Directed by Kirk Jones
One of the downsides of being a film critic is having too many movies to watch. I know, pitiable. So this week, while I was covering another big release, I tasked my girlfriend, Angela (whose large Italian family isn’t unlike the one we see in this film), with seeing the sequel to the hit comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” And she was kind enough to guest review it for me. Cheers!
In 2002, we celebrated the marriage of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) and Ian Miller (John Corbett). Fourteen years later, the Portokalos family is planning another big, fat, Greek wedding. Unlike the movie trailers lead us to believe, Toula and Ian’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Paris, is not the bride.
Due to economic downturn, the travel agency once owned by Toula’s Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) is no longer in business, and Toula returns to her family restaurant, Dancing Zorbas, to help her aging parents because, even in a struggling economy, people have to eat. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” retains much of the original cast, adding to the humor and playing off the timeless tropes from the first movie to draw laughter from the audience. Toula’s brother Nick (Louis Mandylor) and sister Athena (Stavroula Logothettis) now neighbor Toula and the original Portokalos house with large families of their own. Family fills the screen as Aunt Voula, Uncle Taki (Gerry Mendicino), Grandma Yiayia (Bess Meisler), and Cousins Nikki (Gia Carides) and Angelo (Joey Fatone) join the Portokalos family in embracing today’s technology and culture. Hilarity ensues once the elderly family members obtain iPads and iPhones, pulling each other’s necks to appear thinner in their “selfies.” Gus Portokalos (Michael Constantine) learns to use a computer in order to trace his ancestry back to Alexander the Great, and during his search for his link to Greek greatness, he stumbles across an oversight on his wedding certificate: it was never signed by the priest. His wife, Maria (Lainie Kazan), regrets the rushed wedding they had in Greece before departing for America, and now she wants a wedding with Greek themed bells and whistles to validate the marriage. When the wedding planner abruptly abandons the Portokalos party, Toula and her family band together to give Maria and Gus the wedding of a lifetime. With family at the forefront of this film, it is difficult not to smile and laugh.
Although the actors’ performances were equal to, if not better than, their original appearances in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” some lines fell flat. At times, it felt as if the writers were reaching for easy laughs from the audience, adding the bits about selfies and relying heavily on references to new technology. Even the soundtrack included hits from 2016. What made the original movie so classic was its timelessness. The only reference to technology in the original was a scene from Toula’s college classroom featuring old desktop computers, but even that is easy to miss (even if you’ve seen the movie over 100 times like I have). My biggest fear for this film is its reliance on easy laughs, which were completely unnecessary due to the incredible substance present in this sequel. Nevertheless, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is heartwarming and hilarious, an absolute must see, and a great film for perfectly imperfect families of all kinds.