Nia Vardalos's success is nothing short of an actress' 'dream come true' story. Written to be a one-woman play, Vardalos was the cast of a play that would soon become the sleeper hit of 2002. Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks, saw the play and was so thrilled that she had her husband produce the movie.
Here's the story: A young (30 years old) Greek woman, Toula (Nia Vardalos) falls in love with a man, Ian (John Corbett) who is about the same age as her. Early on in the film, Toula narrates; explaining that she never really dated or had much of a social life while growing up. While the popular girls did fun things on the weekend and took part in Brownies, Toula went to Greek school. She was never popular and never accepted by the other girls in her class. Fast forward to age 30, and Toula is working in her family's restaurant when the man of her dreams walks through the door. But there's one major problem. He isn't Greek.
Toula is depressed and miserable. She explains that Greek girls are supposed to do three things in life; marry Greek men, have Greek children, and feed everyone until the day they die. These odd customs are only the beginning of what you should expect from this screw-loose film.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding may happen to be one of the most successful independent films, ever. It's been on the top 10 grossing list practically all summer long, and is still being shown in theaters around the nation thanks to popular demand. It's extremely hilarious and highly entertaining powered by an enjoyable cast.
Toula knows that her family will have a problem with Ian Miller. Her father Gus, (Michael Constantine) is Mr. Greece himself, always telling everyone how every word came from the Greek root. He's proud of his heritage, but isn't proud of the boy whom Toula has decided to bring home to the family. Toula's mother Maria, (Lainie Kazan) is a riotous Greek woman who prepares meals for her guests, even after they say, "No thanks, I'm not hungry." Lainie Kazan is one of my favorite movie moms. I adored her performance as Mrs. Capomezzo, in the very similar but Italian version, 1996 movie "Love Is All There Is," introducing the young and uprising Angelina Jolie.
We begin to see more and more of Toula's family as the movie progresses, including all of her 27 first cousins. Somewhere in the sea of Toula's massive family, is Angelo, played by Nsync's Joey Fatone, who with the help of Toula's brother, is always tricking Ian into saying the wrong phrases in Greek.
After the long exposure of Toula's family, we are introduced to Ian's; his mother and his father. Both are quiet people who are more likely to be caught watching jeopardy than throwing large parties in the front yard. Then there are times when we see both families interact, and we see how incompatible they are. Most of the viewers didn't like Ian's family, but I thought they were great, and helped radiate the effulgent Greek family.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just like most other films where the parents have a problem with their future son/daughter-in-law. But what makes this one stand out is how the people in this movie look like they live in a middle class neighborhood, not Hollywood. The people are only semi-attractive, unlike in The Tuxedo, where Jennifer Love Hewitt could never get a boyfriend.
The humor remains constant, something many comedies have trouble doing. A good example is "Not Another Teen Movie." The first few scenes were loaded with laughs, but then it completely crumbled. The pattern here remains constant. I can't stand it when I become the victim of a lazy screenwriter who exhausted all of the humor within the first five minutes. Fortunately, that didn't happen in this movie.
The biggest flaw I found in the movie is that the chemistry between the two lovers is inconsistent and often contradicts itself. If this was a love story of a drama genre, this movie would have crashed horribly. But because it is a comedy, we can forgive the many mishaps--a scene where Toula is too shy to even be looked at by Ian, so she ducks behind a counter, is followed by a scene where she is making fun of him for getting beat up by an old woman and for having a pathetic pick-up line to get her attraction. Small stuff like that could be picked out here and there, but hopefully you'll be laughing too much to catch them.
Will everything work out in the end? Will Toula and Ian finally elope before Mr. Portokalos can prevent a 'Miller' from becoming a part of the family? I won't insult your intelligence by saying maybe-but there are enough surprises throughout for you to anticipate.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding isn't to be taken seriously. It's to be enjoyed with family, and I mean that statement literally. How often do you feel comfortable seeing a comedy with your family these days? This one is warm, and doesn't have to gross you out to get you to laugh.