Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Elena Kampouris
Written by: (also based on the characters created) Nia Vardalos
Running Time: 94 mins
Release date: 25th March 2016
Back in 2002, a very small, low-budget romantic comedy, produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, came out of nowhere and stole everyone’s hearts. Now, some 14 years later, writer and star Nia Vardalos, who refused to make a sequel earlier as she wanted to concentrate on motherhood and she wanted to experience that before hitting the screen, has managed to bring the original cast for, what is basically, a rehash of the first film but lacking any of the charm, warm and humour that made the first film such a smash.
Toula Portokalos is a woman with problems. Her teenage daughter doesn’t understand her and wants to leave the nest to go to college, her husband, Ian, feels they don’t spend enough time together and her family still rule the roost. Except her father, on trying to prove he is related to Alexander The Great, discovers that his wedding certificate wasn’t signed, leaving Toula’s parents unmarried. Time to have another Big Fat Greek wedding.
What made the original such a joy was that it was full of characters we have never seen on screen before, with plenty of surreal quirks and an overbearing feeling of intimidation, yet with plenty of heart and a love story that was just charming and not sickening. What we have here is, well, exactly the same. Nothing has changed whatsoever. The characters and their quirks are all present and correct. What is missing is the charming love story. Instead, we have bickering parents, a daughter turning her back on her roots because her life is being run by everyone else and Nia Vardalos spending most of the time smiling in the background like some doting deer.
Instead of casual conversations that made the first film so appealing, this comes at you like some poor TV sit-com, where a series of set pieces are punctuated by punchlines that you can see coming at you, then leaves a gap for laughter that actually doesn’t exist. It becomes increasingly annoying as we watch the cast desperately overcooking everything while the plot goes nowhere. When the wedding finally arrives in the final act, you really don’t care about anyone or anything that has happened.
It does sound like I am being very snooty about. There is the very odd occasion when I sniggered but remember how much I was charmed by the first film and how much I laughed, this lacks either. Vardalos stands around looking like she has lived the Hollywood high life and is just an onlooker, hoping she is going to top up her bank balance with this film. John Corbett, who became a huge heartthrob after film one, seems to have lost his shine and is given very little to do. Only Andrea Martin, as the over-the-top Aunt Voula, manages to inject any real humour from her force-of-nature advice queen.
I really wanted to like My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. I look upon the original with great fondness but none of that is present here. Instead, this feels like a cynical cash-in which relies far too much on past knowledge of the first film. Those charming and funny characters from before have become witless and annoying. Sorry but this should have been retitled My Big Fat Greek Bore!