DISCLAIMER: I never saw the first one. Strange, considering that I was practically raised on romantic comedies. How’d that happen, Mom?? Anyway, since I had nothing to compare this film to, it was a bit refreshing to go into it without expectations. Eh well, without further adieu, this is my honest opinion of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2.
Toula (Nia Vardalos) is still very close to her very Greek family, trying to balance her immediate family with her extended family, especially since her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is so close to graduating high school and already choosing colleges. Her biggest fear though is that Paris is choosing to go to a college in New York, whereas Toula and her husband and Paris’ father Ian (John Corbett) want her to be in local colleges. To make matters even more complicated, it was recently discovered that Toula’s parents Gus and Maria (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan respectively) have not been married all this time due to a priest never had signed their marriage certificate. However, Maria feels like the passion is gone from their relationship is gone and wants Gus to propose to her the right way. But Gus is a stubborn soul and just wants to get it over with. So begins a crazy series of events of Toula trying to keep the family together and happy, while also trying to make things better in her own home.
It’s not awful. There’s some good and there’s some bad.
First off, the movie sacrifices common sense in lieu of the movies one running joke: this family is ridiculously involved in each other’s lives. Let’s start with the title of the movie itself. One would think from the summary that the movie would have a primary focus on Gus and Maria getting married. Problem is, there’s such a big deal about Paris leaving for college. First of all, why? Why is it such a big deal that she leaves? This isn’t exactly explored. Do parents really do this? Shouldn’t they be happy that there’s a college that suits their dreams and goals? And even if Paris’ motivations were as simple as getting away from her nosey family, could you really blame her? I know I’d passionately hate that shit.
Also, I really think it’s weak reasoning for Gus to not just propose to his wife. Look, if you’re going to have a theme about passion dying after marriage, which is kind of explored in the movie as Ian and Toula seem to have a similar issue (not a very obvious one as she comments how cool Ian always is), but the writers just kind of made it cheap. I know it’s a romantic comedy, but that’s not an excuse. Good and smart rom-coms exist and put forth strong ideas and powerfully resolve them. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT comes to mind (sort of the golden standard for rom-coms if you ask me). This could easily be a character study in why that sort of thing happens instead of treating it like it’s a punchline to a joke that was never that funny. So I guess, bottom lined, the movie isn’t challenging. It’s just more concerned with making old people jokes (admitted, some are pretty funny).
Take note of something weird that I do. I’m highly critical of comedies that I see. Generally, if it’s not a hybrid of another genre, like action or horror, I will be looking for reason after reason to hate it before even considering the possibility of liking it. While I think comedies are the lowest form of entertainment when done wrong, like raunchy comedies, romantic comedies I’m surprisingly backwards. I look for reasons to like it. And… I did.
While the movie lacks any genuine humor, with the exception of that one sister who is talking to John Stamos’ character who she decides to flirt with by unzipping the top of her blouse to expose her cleavage to him got me howling with laughter, the movie makes up for it by having fairly likable characters.
Paris is the stereotypical teenager who wants her independence, but I suppose I’m less harsh toward her character because there is a reason behind it. She’s kind of sick of how her family is constantly up in her business, which again, is very understandable. This family she’s born into is clearly a handful and takes a serious kind of mental fortitude to come out of it with her sanity intact everyday. And she’s not annoying, despite hitting the tropes. That’s pretty rare. A shamelessly cliche character that’s not annoying or unlikable. Kampouris, well done. Hope you’ve got a great career ahead of you.
And I gotta say, Vardalos, that woman’s got a billion dollar smile. I have no idea what it is, but despite how annoyed with her character I get, when she smiles or widens her eyes, I just forgive her. She has this charm, this sparkle in her eye that adds a level of legit to the silly choices her character makes.
And I do have to give a shout out to the chemistry. Everyone works very well off of each other and I do buy the comradery. So I find myself caring about their issues, as stupid and not well-thought-out as they may be. Maybe I’m just a sucker for stories about old people still doing the romance stuff.
Wrapping this up, I don’t hate this movie. In fact, it’s pretty enjoyable. I might check out the first some day when or if there’s a week with zero new releases in theatres, but for now, I have to say, if you’re a rom-com junkie, this isn’t a bad way to go.
My honest rating: 3/5