My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Review

EVERYDAY OF MY LIFE IS “GREEK CLUB”


 

Back in 2002, the surprise hit of the year was in the form of the family comedy movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In a nutshell, the movie followed Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, an American Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek male named Ian Miller, which causes Toula’s large Greek family a lot of anxiety and intrigue with her new blooming relationship of marrying someone “outside” of being Greek. The movie’s plot, while not unheard of its genre, was a success as well as its comedy antics and gags, garnishing a place for My Big Fat Greek Wedding as the fifth highest grossing movie that year (smack dab between Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Many were expecting (and hoping) for a sequel follow-up immediately following, but were somewhat surprised when writer / star Nia Vardalos wanted to continue the feature on the small screen with the 2003 television show “My Big Fat Greek Life”. Unfortunately, with a declining rating after each subsequently week on airing episode, the television show was canceled (only premiering seven episodes in its first season) and ultimately dooming the franchise from resurfacing on any media platform. Almost fourteen years have passed and now finally fans of the original movie are getting the sequel they craved with the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Is this long awaited sequel worth the wait or has too much passed to get caught up with the Portokalos family?

 

THE STORY


Mother to the seventeen-year-old teenager Paris (Elena Kampouris), Toula (Nia Vardalos) wrestles with her own fear of that her only child is heading off to college soon, with the ideal passion of attending an out of state university in order to get away from her large and overbearing Greek family (the Portokalos family). Adding to Toula’s anxiety is her husband Ian (John Corbett) as their parental of their daughter has somewhat neglected their marriage, oddly struggling to kindle their “first love” romance. While Toula’s father, Gus (Michael Constantine), pushes for his granddaughter to find “a nice Greek boy” her own age, he makes a startling discovery that he and his wife Maria (Lanie Kazan) were never officially married, soon finding out that his longtime spouse won’t their partnership legal unless he commits to a new wedding ceremony. As domestic spat between Gus and Maria heats up, the entire Portokalos family circles around this events, with Nick (Louis Mandylor), Nikki (Gia Carides), Angelo (Joey Fatone), and Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) jump into action and are ready to pull off a second big fat Greek wedding celebration.

THE GOOD / THE BAD


I can honestly say that when My Big Fat Greek Wedding originally came out back in 2002, I wasn’t interested in seeing the movie. I heard people talking about it that year, but it never really crossed my mind to see it. A couple of years later, I actually decided to sit down and watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding (I think it was HBO) and the movie to be quite funny. Even at my family gatherings (with my extended family members) we quote that movie all the time and have a good laugh. Indeed, a movie that took only 5 million to make and grossed over 368 million worldwide was quite a sleeper success story. After seeing the movie, I (like many) was sort hoping to see a sequel movie. I heard about the TV show (My Big Fat Greek Life), but actually never saw it. And then I saw the trailer for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and was kind of surprise that they were going to make one. After seeing this long belated sequel, I found My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was a harmless comedy movie that (despites it shortcomings) is good-wholesome family fun movie.

Director Kirk Jones, who previously directed by What to Expect When Your Expecting and Waking Ned Devine, directs Greek Wedding 2 with Nia Vardalos writing the next chapter in the Portokalos. While the first movie delves the understanding of clashing-cultures (and its ultimately acceptances within a relationship and family), this sequel focuses on being married and having children. It’s an interesting that the movie doesn’t recycle the idea of the 2002 movie in that regard as it stands as an extended branch from its original movie, continuing the next chapter of Toula and Ian and their various family members. Like the first movie, the overall comedy of the movie is the highlight of the movie and writing, while not piercing sharp, is never flat and dull, recalling a couple of “old classics” gags from the first film as well as crafting a couple of new ones (i.e. a scene where Gus is trying to learn to how to use a computer for the first time is hilarious). Lastly, the movie is relatively short (not bloated) and moves at brisk pace from one scene to the next.

The big problem with Greek Wedding 2 is that tries to serve up too many plots threads within a 94-minute feature timeframe. While characters Toula and Ian were the true main focal point in the first movie, there less important in this sequel as several other minor characters get more time to appear on-screen with some minor sub-plots. It’s interesting to see some of them get their moment in the spotlight, but it ultimately falls short to the greater portions of Greek Wedding 2, which is the wedding of Gus and Maria. Even the story thread of Toula’s daughter Paris of going to college and trying to accept her large overbearing Greek family sort of gets sidetracked, which is strange because that storyline was promoted heavily in the movie’s trailers and TV spots. Thus, Greek Wedding 2’s is a tad bit shallow as it trying to give everyone their characters’ personal arcs and moments. Additionally, the movie doesn’t really go beyond the likeability of the original movie, something that’s commonplace within most sequels. However, in its defense, I personally believe that Greek Wedding 2 is still better feature compared to other long awaited comedy sequel (i.e Dumb and Dumber To, Zoolander 2, etc.).

As far as the cast of the movie goes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 has a lot of callbacks of cast members from the original movie reprising their roles. Naturally, Nia Vardalos and John Corbett still have the same chemistry as they did back in 2002 as older versions of their respective characters Toula and Ian. Though together they add a layer of sweetness in this installment, neither one is fully better developed or changed from how they were in the original film. The two respective patriarch and matriarch of the Portokalos family return as well as with Michael Constantine playing the stubborn and immovable Gus and Lainie Kazan as the proud and overbearing Maria. Like Vardalos and Corbett, these two easy slip back into the characters and help guide the movie forward (especially since they are part of the main story thread in this sequel, while Andrea Martin reprises her roles Aunt Voula, whose bizarre and zany anecdotes of her sex life and health continue to be the true highlight of the sequel.

Unfortunately, the newest addition to the Greek Wedding franchise Elena Kampouris as Toula teenage daughter Paris gets shortchanged in this movie. While I’m not criticizing her acting ability, it’s just that she’s sort of gets lost in Greek Wedding 2; ultimately being shuffled to the back-burner several times and making her narrative thread and her presence in the movie feel less important than what it’s supposed to be. There’s a couple of cameos in the movie, including Rob Riggles, John Stamos, and Rita Wilson, but there pretty much “throwaway” appearances and are somewhat forgetful.

The rest of the Portokalos family returns for Greek Wedding 2, including Gia Carides as Nikki, Joey Pantone as cousin Angelo, Gerry Mendeicino as Uncle Taki, and Louis Mandylor as Nick. Each one still carries the same endearing bravado moniker from the first film (in a cartoon-ish way), which helps elevate the film’s comedy and story, while Bess Meisier reprises her roles as the ancient grandmother Mana-Yiayia, having a little bit more screen time in running comedic gags and tender exchanges between the film’s various characters. All in all, it’s pretty clear that actor or actresses in the movie (regardless if their character get fleshed out or not) is having a joyous good time making this movie. And that’s always a good thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS


Viewers are cordially invited to return for another Portokalos wedding (and all its festivities) in the long sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Director Kirk Jones takes what made the first film interesting and funny and hones that knowledge into this sequel. While it doesn’t really raise the bar as a sequel or surpass the original feature film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 still has enough laughs, tenderness, and sincerity to its credit to make for a pleasing belated comedy sequel. To me, I didn’t expect this Greek Wedding 2 to surpass the original, so (with expectations lowered) I felt that the movie was good, harmless, and quite enjoyable for what it was. Thus, I would personally recommend My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 to fans of the original 2002 movie who are just looking for a good friendly laugh on a lazy afternoon or to fans who just want to catch up with the Portokalos family.

3.5 Out of 5 (Recommended)

 

Released On: March 25th, 2016
Reviewed On: April 2nd, 2016

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is rated PG-13 for some suggestive material

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