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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
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Review Date: December 14, 2002
Director: Joel Zwick
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Producers: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Gary Goetzman
Actors:
Nia Vardalos as Toula
John Corbett as Ian
Michael Constantine as Gus
Plot:
A nerdie Greek girl with an overbearing family changes her look and attitude one day, and soon thereafter, finds a guy with whom she falls in love. The problem? He's not Greek and the girl's family has an issue with her marrying outside of their culture. Ouzo, the fat guy from N'Sync and plenty of Greek jokes ensue.
Critique:
Granted, I saw this film after all the hype, all the profits and all of the positive notices from pretty much every single person that I know who saw the movie, but after 90 minutes of weak jokes, over-the-top stereotypes and an unimpressive "love" story, I honestly can't say that I discovered what all the fuss was about MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. If anything, the film is an interesting alternative to all of the more obvious Hollywood romances, many of which feel like they're being banged out by monkeys on typewriters, rehashing staple conventions of old, and slapping the most recent "it" actor and actress up as its leads (see the two most recent holiday romance comedies as perfect examples of just that). Having said that, I do hope that the success of this movie, as well as its lead actress/writer Nia Vardalos, will cattle prod certain Hollywood studio execs into taking a few more creative chances in the future. But as a cinematic presentation of its own, I personally didn't think that this movie was all that special. First of all, and probably most importantly, I just didn't "buy" the love connection between the two leads. I thought it was rushed and I truly never felt much between them (other than the curiosity factor). Secondly, the movie featured very little in actual plot or obstacles. Once the two kids decided to get married, the only other plot device left was the whole Greek family angle and their quirky "differences" (for God's sakes...why didn't the two leads have, at least, one fight or disagreement after they decided to get married-that would surely have spiced things up). I didn't think that was enough to sustain the rest of the film, and quickly grew bored of the repetitive jokes involving Windex, the grilling of meat and everyone's over-the-top accents.

I come from an ethnic background myself, hung out with Armenians, Greeks and Italians my whole life, and even though some of the stuff was familiar and cute (like the grandma thing, the whole "spitting" superstition, as well as the overprotective dad), most of it was just too obvious and "easy" (like watching Leno). Furthermore, pretty much all of the characters, other than the two leads, were barely given any dimension. Now that I think about it, Corbett's character didn't have much meat to him either (just call him "bland boy"). A perfect example is Vardalos' brother Nick, who seemed like an interesting enough character to develop, but all we ever got from him were a couple of clues about his artistic inclination and unfulfilled potential. Of course, many of my smaller quirks wouldn't matter so much if I had laughed throughout this movie, but the truth is that very few jokes even made me smile. I thought the early stuff with Vardalos looking like a complete nerd was overdone and fake, and even the rest of the stuff wasn't particularly inspired (ex: the father constantly finding the Greek in every word). I laughed once or twice but that was about it. Combine that with a script which contained very few hurdles, many stereotypical characters and a wedding that turned out to be...not altogether exciting either, and in my point of view, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING is one of the most overrated movies of the year.

Yes, it's got a couple of cute moments, it's refreshing to see a romantic comedy starring a "regular" woman (Hollywood, take notice-stop turning women into celery sticks!) and some decent lovey-dovey scenes did pop up here and there, but on the whole, this film didn't make me laugh much, didn't make me "aaaaaah" much and didn't give me any more insight into its astronomical popularity. Then again, maybe I'm just bitter cause shit didn't work out with my apparent "perfect family girl" and I'm just taking it out on this movie as payback. Naaaaaaaaaah! Hehehe...now where's that ouzo again!? Hoppa!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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