My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Distributed by: IFC Films
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 2002, much ado was made about a film about a Greek woman going against the wishes of her family by marrying a non-Greek man and all the hilarity that ensues afterwards. I never saw the film, but heard many good things about it. Just recently, I had the opportunity to check out My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Sometimes, what they say is true - better late than never.
Based on Nia Vardalos’ story about her own marriage to actor Ian Gomez, My Big Fat Greek Wedding centers around Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), a thirty year old woman who wants more out of life than to marry young to another Greek and have children or work in her parents' Greek diner. Even as a child, she would rebel against the old-fashioned rules of her heritage in search of something more. At the age of thirty, Toula finally finds the courage to go against the grain. She heads off to college, much to the chagrin of her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), and with the blessing of her mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan). Little could they know what this all would lead to.
Toula gets a job at her aunt’s travel agency, using her knowledge of computers to increase business. It’s there that she sees Ian Miller (John Corbett), a handsome young man she once came in contact with at her father’s diner, but was too shy to talk to. After an awkward beginning, the two hit it off and begin dating…in secret, for Toula is Greek and her family would not understand her dating a non-Greek man. After all, Gus always says, “There are two kinds of people: those who are Greek and those who wish they were Greek.” Those who wish they were Greek have no business messing with the Portokalos family.
Despite her attempts at keeping her romantic life a secret, the family finds out about Ian. Although Gus and Maria try to persuade Toula to find someone more suitable, Ian and Toula are in love and plan to marry. Resigning themselves to the inevitable, the Portokalos make certain that the wedding will be a traditional Greek affair. What takes place is a hilariously overdone calamity.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is funny from the first scene, thanks to Nia Vardalos’ narration, to the very last. I’m glad they decided that Nia should star in the film. After all, she wrote it based on her own marriage, so who better to star in the lead role than someone who knows it first hand. I loved the cultural references, such as the spitting for luck, the belief that Windex cures every ailment and that food will solve all problems. I enjoyed the way Gus always found a way to find a Greek root in every word ever thrown at him. I also can understand some of the strict adherence to custom, having had Greek friends and remembering what it was like with their parents.
I never really was a big fan of John Corbett, but he was quite adorable as Ian Miller, a man so thoroughly in love with a woman, he will do anything to make her family happy so that he can be with her. Lainie Kazan is hysterical as the manipulative and over-the-top Maria. Michael Constantine is both exasperating and loveable as a man who only wants the best for his daughter. Especially endearing is his speech at the wedding about apples and oranges and how they are all just fruit…you have to see the scene to understand why this is so sweet. Other enjoyable performances come from Louis Mandylor, Andrea Martin and Gia Carides.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a romantic comedy that is made more enjoyable by the fact that it is based on reality, making the film easy to relate to. I found myself smiling when I wasn’t laughing my head off. This film is a must see for any woman who needs a funny, feel good, romantic comedy.