Cinematic Releases: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Andrew reviews the fourteen years overdue sequel to the 2002 romantic comedy.

It has been fourteen years since the 2002 romantic comedy sleeper hit and, to this day, the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  

Would you look at the size of that thing?

Considered to be among the most successful independent films ever made, this comedy of errors concerning a young Greek woman trying to facilitate a marriage to a non-Greek Anglo-Saxon was at the time a charming little comedy that, in my eyes, took more than a few cues from Norman Jewison's far classier and arguably funnier 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck.  Despite that film focusing on the tight knit Italian family versus the Greek family, the dinner table bickering and comedy of errors is pretty much the same though the family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is far more obnoxious and overbearing.  It wasn't among my favorites but there was something to it I suppose.  Come around 2016, now here is My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which catches up with the oversized, crass and maybe even lunatic family tree by reuniting nearly all of the original cast members, tossing in a bigger budget with the help of producer Tom Hanks and now giving the titular Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) an eighteen year old daughter named, get ready for this, Paris (Elene Kampouris).  Fans of the original no doubt couldn't wait to see what the nearly full cast of the original making up this wacky family were up to after all these years and for all the cutesy charms and obnoxious shenanigans ensuing in a silly and often ridiculous comedy of errors, I'm sorry to say there's not a lot for them to do this time around.

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It took Nia Vardalos fourteen years to bring this sequel to the screen and the poster suggests with their daughter by their side that their efforts will focus on her wedding.  Unfortunately we instead get a major contrivance when the plot (if you can call it such) surmises Toula's parents, Maria (Lainie Kazan) and Kostas (Michael Constantine) discover after all these years they never actually finished all the paperwork for their marriage certificate, thus prompting the need for a new wedding plan all over again.  Where the original seemed to suggest progress with the titular couple working against traditional Greek marital beliefs, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 pretty much goes backwards with the plot, recycling tired jokes from the predecessor while amping up the now PG-13 rated raunch and using the framework of the hit television show The Middle to stress Toula's exasperated interior monologue.  Despite having a bigger budget, a new director, a high school daughter, Mark Margolis and being shot in widescreen this time around, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is an undercooked and, upon further reflection, disappointing sequel.  While the original was by no means a masterpiece, purporting harmless fun with more than a few sight gags, there was a narrative hook you could latch onto.  This by comparison just meanders in search of the next anecdote and crude off color humor. 

While I'm not gonna outright trash My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, I will say it is kind of an empty retread of the first film with a fraction of that film's sense of purpose and linear flow.   Here, it plays like gonzo sketch comedy and I have to believe a chunk of this was improvised until enough footage was shot to cut it together into something running two hours long.  Those who were either amused or offended by the ethnic stereotypes won't find anything different in that department but those who latched on to the story of a Greek woman trying to make an unconventional marriage work will continue to wait for a plot of some sort to emerge from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 which never arrives.  

It's also nowhere near as funny as the first film with many of the crude jokes simply being crude for their own sake and much of the ethnic stereotypes recycled until they become plasticine.   I didn't mind the picture but upon breaking it down objectively, I came up empty handed.  No the original rom com didn't aim very high but it still resembled a film with a beginning, middle and end.  Sure it is cutesy harmless fun but I would like to think there's more to making a movie than just rounding up all the cast members for one more curtain call.


- Andrew Kotwicki