Fourteen years ago Nia Vardalos emerged out of nowhere with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, a little, deeply personal comedy based on her oversized, overprotective, and over sharing Greek family. The film was a smash, earning more than $200M and was beloved by millions. No matter what your ethnic background it’s impossible not to see a little of your own crazy family in Vardalos’. However, subsequent attempts to cash in on the film’s success have been a disaster, and sadly “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is about as enjoyable as burnt pastitsio.
Resembling a bunch of strung-together episodes of Vardalos’ failed sitcom, “My Big Fat Greek Life”, the film mostly recycles the same gags as before, perhaps assuming they’ll work for a brand new audience. But is there anyone who didn’t see the first film who is interested in this one? Probably not; and they wouldn’t understand why family patriarch Gus (Michael Constantine) is using Windex to de-ice his car. Honestly, the Windex gags begin within the first 10 seconds but thankfully they are less prevalent this time around. Toula (Vardalos) is still the gal who snagged her prince, John (John Corbett), but their marriage is in a rut. They’re too busy with their jobs, Toula’s ever-present family, and concern over their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is dealing with some of the same insecurities about her heritage that Toula faced. Plus she’s about to pick a college and the always-nurturing Toula wants her to stay home in Chicago.
So while this film is about Toula coping with motherhood, the title demands there be a wedding, right? Well, there is, and through a contrived series of events it’s discovered that Gus and his wife Maria (Lainie Kazan) aren’t actually married. They’ve been “living in sin” for the last half-century, and now must tie the knot to make it official. An unfunny, pointless battle of sexes briefly erupts as Maria considers her options, with the women supporting her and the guys wondering what the heck the big deal is. There’s the suggestion Maria wants more out of life than just being a wife, but it’s not a subject the film is really equipped to explore in any way beyond on a sitcom level.
Mostly it’s everything you heard before, including the grating Andrea Martin as the brassy, filter-less Aunt Voula. There are impromptu makeovers, including one for the saintly Mana-yiayia (Bess Meisler), and deeply disturbing jokes about wedding night sex in which the women say they were told to just “pretend to faint and let your husband take it from there”. If any other film with any other culture told a joke like that there’d be an uproar, but somehow it’s accepted here.
Vardalos means well, and ultimately the film is completely harmless and will probably work for those who loved the original. But if you weren’t, this is one Greek wedding you can politely decline to RSVP for.