Film review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is one invitation we could have done without

The gags from the original Nia Vardalos movie are sadly repeated in this inadequate sequel.
Nia Vardalos as Toula and John Corbett as Ian in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
Nia Vardalos as Toula and John Corbett as Ian in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Director: Kirk Jones

Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin Two stars

Ever been to a wedding where you don’t know any of the other guests very well? It’s pretty horrible, no matter how good the food or the band might be. Everyone’s laughing really hard at jokes you don’t find funny, or even ­understand.

On the other hand, if you know and love everyone who is there you’ll have fun even if the champagne is flat and the canapes soggy.

And that is about as deep as we need to go in analysing My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, an overstuffed, underachieving sequel. If you’ve been dying for a reunion with the aggressively loveable Portokalos family, maybe you’ll be happy. But if you didn’t miss them much, or know them in the first place, decline the invitation and stay away.

The fact that the film took 14 years to arrive – with Nia Vardalos again the star and writer – is both a blessing and a curse. The long wait stoked huge interest – the original was a ginormous sleeper hit, after all – but it also implies that we’re about to see something that was worth the wait.

Instead, the script is a tired pastiche of what seem like the same gags we heard the first time. Greek families are big and affectionate. Greek families get involved in each other’s business. Greek families smother you with love. And so on.

We begin in snowy Chicago, where Toula (Vardalos) is still married to hunk of a husband, Ian (John Corbett, amiable but peripheral), now the high-school principal. Her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), is still very much the patriarch, and the rest of the gang is back, too, including Lainie Kazan as Toula’s mum, Maria, and the terrific Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula.

Toula and Ian are now parents of a high-school senior, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is aching to spread her wings and rolls her mascara-heavy eyes when her grandfather instructs her to quickly find a nice Greek boy and marry him.

Poor Paris really suffers as this theme is stretched to ridiculous proportions when the entire clan – cousins, aunts, uncles – show up at the school’s college fair, where they virtually accost one representative and threaten him with punishment should Paris not be admitted. Oh, families. So silly.

This is a recurring problem with the film, directed by Kirk Jones: what seemed quirky and funny in the original is exaggerated to unfunny extremes here. It’s as if Vardalos was trying to take things to a darker, more interesting place – but at every such turn, got scared and went for slapstick humour instead.

Given the title, there’s got to be ... a wedding, right? But Toula’s already married and Paris is too young – and so, we have a plot device whereby Gus discovers that his original marriage license from Greece was never signed.

Time for a wedding. More importantly, time for a ­wedding-dress shopping montage. Like every movie in the history of cinema has featured when a woman needs a wedding dress.

Of course, there are a few obstacles along the way – but we all know we will eventually get a happy wedding somehow. And you’ll surely smile at a few points.

It’s only when those credits roll that you’ll likely find yourself thinking: we waited 14 years ... for this?

Published: April 6, 2016 04:00 AM


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