My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Movies about generation gaps tend to be either goofy comedies or searing dramas. My Big Fat Greek Wedding falls squarely into the former category, with writer Nia Vardalos (Meet Prince Charming) adapting her play to the big screen. Because of the title, there is no secret what is going to happen. Toula Portokalos (Vardalos) meets the man of her dreams, they fall in love and wed. The only problem is that she comes from a traditionally Greek family, and Ian Miller (John Corbett, Serendipity, Dinner Rush) is not Greek. According to Toula's father Gus (Michael Constantine, WWIII, Thinner), good Greek women need to marry Greek men, have Greek babies, and cook until they die. Needless to say, there is a clash between Nia and Ian and the entire Portokalos clan.

Toula is thirty, single, frumpy, and working at her parents' Greek restaurant. Realizing that she needs to break out of her funk, she remakes her image and begins taking college courses. When she meets Ian, she keeps it a secret because her parents will disapprove, but soon must face them when she decides to marry him. The bulk of My Big Fat Greek Wedding plays like a television sitcom filled with quirky characters. Vardalos and veteran sitcom director Joel Zwick (Second Sight) throw out every single immigrant stereotype (Greek or otherwise) as Ian meets the Portokaloses and Nia prepares for the wedding. However, the tone is far from mocking. Instead, Vardalos is poking fun at the habits and foibles of her relatives (exaggerated for effect) in a gentle and loving manner, if that makes any sense. She is not saying that what they are doing is wrong, just that it is part of who they are. This is what makes My Big Fat Greek Wedding fun to watch. It is her celebration of the oddness of her culture.

And since it is a given that Ian and Nia will marry, there needs to be lots of oddness to go around. Although most of the situations and ring with familiarity because every movie or television show has used them at one point or another. Some of the quirks are not necessarily confined to the Greek culture, or even to immigrant culture. Vardalos mixes and matches common stereotypes with other strange behavior. Nia's father uses Windex as a cure-all elixir, and challenges anybody to give him a word where he cannot find a Greek root. It is the acting that makes this movie fun to watch. Vardalos narrates to provide context to the situations, and it ends up making things more absurd, since it feels like a demented documentary. She plays the same, neurotic but smart woman that seems to populate romantic comedies. Corbett is a little more bland. He is more of a wall, letting the weirdness of the Portokalos clan hit him. His ultra WASP parents (Bruce Gray, Happy Face Murders, Dementia, and Fiona Reid, Walter and Henry, Bogus) are much funnier. Emotionally and socially, they are the polar opposite of Nia's family. Like other similar movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is like cotton candy. It is pretty fluff and fun to enjoy, but disappears quickly.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 35 minutes, Rated PG for sensuality and language.

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