I was working in a movie theater when the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out in 2002. I remember the sold-out shows of the film that seemingly sprang out of nowhere, the brief cultural phenomenon that was born from such an innocuous film. It was an organic success (or at least as organic as being backed and co-signed by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson could possibly be), a low-budget indie that built an audience on word-of-mouth. This never meant I actually watched the thing (this was in the innocent days before you could just pay me to watch whatever), so I have no opinion on the original. I will say that whatever My Big Fat Greek Wedding was or is, this sequel is not. The mere idea of another one of these things, a full 14 years later, just reeks of money-grabbing cynicism (assuming the audience for another dose still exists) and feels — yet again — like everything wrong and ailing about cinema. Nothing can be left alone, and nothing can be new, with 2016 and beyond feeling like a disappointing recyclery of ideas.
Despite how I may feel on the subject, this is the reality of the movie business, an industry run by people far outside whatever influence I might pretend to have. Because of this, and because my job is to, you know, write about movies, here is the movie I have to write about: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. And, on its own merits, as a piece of filmmaking existing in a vacuum, it sucks. I dug up Ken’s review of the original movie, where he wrote that it was “comfortable, cozy, unthreatening and, above all, unsurprising.” That’s a pretty safe description of part two, with the added sense of increased tedium, banality and just boorish noisiness.
Not content to leave well enough alone, Nia Vardalos (who’s now written both films, starred in the original one-woman show of the same name and also once starred in the sitcom adaptation) returns as Toula. Still (mostly) happily married to Ian (John Corbett) and now comfortable with her heritage all these years later, the two have a daughter, Nikki (Elena Kampouris, Men, Women & Children) who’s about to graduate high school, but is rebelling against her omnipresent family in a storm of pinch-faced angst. At the same time, it’s discovered that her parents Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria’s (Lainie Kazan) marriage was never quite legal, so they’re stuck having — you guessed it — a big fat Greek wedding (also meaning the title of this film is a lie, but whatever).
That’s the plot, as things go along pretty innocuously with constant stops for gags based around flat-footed ethnic stereotypes. The film has that sitcom-style feel to it — a mix of flat direction, bad, quippy jokes and a plot that has zero consequence. Everything wraps up neatly, which is to be expected in a film like this, but there are no surprises and no energy to the film, making for a dull experience. As pleasant or harmless as the film can be, it’s wholly listless and feels calculated and lifeless. It’s a classic case of diminished returns, taking a fairly harmless original and turning it into something pointless and drab. Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material.