Where can I find me a Greek gal?!?
Still unmarried at 30, Toula (Nia Vardalos) doesn’t have a whole lot going for her life. She’s been stuck working at her family’s restaurant for many years and whenever it seems like she’s getting tired of doing so and wants to leave, she somehow gets guilted into staying by either her parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan), or anyone of the numerous first cousins and relatives she has, watching and judging her every move. But one day, Toula gets a job at a travel agency, where, one fateful day, she meets Ian (John Corbett), a teacher who takes a liking to Toula right away and asks her out. Of course, she says yes, and from there on, the two grow closer and eventually, wouldn’t you know it? They fall in love. Obviously, the idea of marriage is brought up and while both are clearly all for it, there’s only one issue that may stand in the way of Toula and Ian getting a chance to say their vows: He’s not Greek. And judging by how the rest of her family reacts when they hear he isn’t Greek, Toula starts to reconsider everything about her life.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is obviously infamous for many reasons that don’t really have to do with the actual quality of the movie itself. Sure, it received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, but aside from that, what everyone seems to talk about with it is how it spent so much time at the box office, without it featuring any big names, franchises, or whatever else that makes a movie a huge hit. Not only was it an indie-hit, it was a hit that showed Hollywood why word-of-mouth can sometimes be better than just releasing your movie and tossing it out there for everyone to see, even if nobody does actually see it.
But regardless, the movie itself is just fine.
The best part of the movie is that Nia Vardalos’ screenplay clearly comes from a soft spot in her heart. This is clear, not just from the way she portrays the Greek lifestyle and norms, but her whole family as well. If you’ve ever met a Greek family, you’d know that a lot of the movie may be a bit of an exaggeration, but nonetheless, a lot of the running-gags are still pretty funny and do give us better understandings of who these characters are, as cartoonish as they may be. There’s the father who believes that Windex cures anything; there’s the cousins who don’t know how to tell actual, funny jokes; there’s the mother who always has to have the latest family drama; the aunt who seems to always get too drunk and tell-all with random strangers; and so on and so forth.
A lot of the movie is actually funny, which is why it’s sweet to see how Vardalos approaches these characters. While it would have been easy to make her family out to be old-timey and old-fashioned Greeks who clearly don’t live in the new millennium, Vardalos shows that a lot of the ideals and ways they live by are what make them stronger as a family. Sure, Vardalos shows that her family can be a bit annoying, but at the same time, still shows that a lot of what they do, is what makes them who they are – they aren’t apologizing for it and they aren’t asking to be accepted by anybody else who, well, isn’t Greek.
And yeah, Vardalos herself is pretty solid in the lead role, too. Vardalos has this seemingly everyday woman way about her that makes her character easy to relate to, even when it seems like she may be the most normal character out of the bunch. Same goes for John Corbett’s Ian who, like with most John Corbett characters, is a likable, everyday guy who you would definitely meet on the street and strike up a conversation with. Together, the two have great chemistry and it’s easy to see why they’d fall in love and want to get married, even if the movie does seem to rush it a bit too fast.
But really, this story is less about them two and more about the other characters surrounding them.
Every member of Toula’s Greek family is funny and striking with personality. However, the one who really surprised me was Michael Constantine’s Gus. While the movie originally makes him out to be a bit of a controlling, sometimes overbearing father-figure, eventually, the movie begins to change its tune and show that maybe Gus, if anything, just loves his daughter and wants what’s best for her. He may be too concerned with her not being married and childless, but as the movie begins to show us, he’s only being like this because he truly does want Toula to be happy and, most of all, he wants to have a bigger, more loving family.
Just as any daddy wants.
Consensus: Though it’s a pretty average rom-com, Nia Vardalos’ smart and sometimes, very funny screenplay, allows for My Big Fat Greek Wedding to rise above plenty others in that tired genre.
6.5 / 10