“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” isn’t the only highly anticipated film being released in theaters today. The long-awaited sequel to 2002’s sleeper hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is also now playing, and unlike the heavily hyped superhero blockbuster it’s pitted against, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” was actually worth the wait.
Not to say that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is as funny as its predecessor, but it is equally as charming. This time around, the titular big fat Greek wedding belongs to Toula’s (Nia Vardalos) parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan), who discover while Gus is trying to trace his ancestry online to prove that he’s a direct descendant of Alexander the Great that their wedding certificate was never signed by the priest, so technically they were never married. Rather than rushing to the courthouse to make things official, Maria holds out for the romantic proposal she never received the first time around from Gus. Following a minor medical emergency, stubborn Gus finally pleads with his longtime love to remarry him, and Maria goes overboard trying to plan her own big fat Greek wedding.
Meanwhile, Toula is dealing with her own crisis, as it turns out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and her teenage daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris, “American Odyssey”) wants to flee her overbearing Greek relatives by attending college out of state. Preoccupied with her only child leaving the nest and her aging parents constantly needing her help running their Greek restaurant, Toula’s marriage to Ian (John Corbett) begins to suffer. Can Toula save her love life, or is she headed for a big fat Greek divorce?
What makes “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” such a success is the strength of its ensemble cast. Audiences truly feel like they’re being reunited with distant friends or relatives who they love and have missed for the past 14 years. While Vardalos may be at the center of the story and steps back into the role of Toula with ease, it’s Michael Constantine as Gus and Bess Meisler as the oft-forgotten Mana-Yiayia who quickly charm their way into viewers’ hearts. Meisler, in particular, steals nearly every scene she’s in, usually without saying a word. One sweet scene involving her character toward the end of the movie is sure to bring a few tears to viewers’ eyes.
The story itself, which was written once again by Vardalos and is based loosely on some of her own experiences as a mother, has plenty of laughs, although some of the plot points are an obvious retread of the first film. There’s also a storyline involving Joey Fatone’s character, cousin Angelo, that comes out of nowhere and is resolved far too quickly and easily for the weight of the subject matter. It would have been nice if Vardalos had tackled the storyline more or built it up better rather than rushing through it, as the way it is presented it just seems thrown in to give Fatone more screen time rather than develop his character.
Corbett could have easily been given more to work with, too. While it’s understandable for him not to be in every scene given the plot of the film (not only is he not a part of Toula’s Greek family, but his absence on-screen shows how much Toula is neglecting him for her needy relatives), audiences don’t really feel like Toula and Ian’s marriage is in any serious danger because they don’t get to see them interact too much throughout the film.
Of course, Vardalos may have purposely kept things light since “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is, after all, a romantic-comedy. Viewers are quick to forgive any weak points in the story, too, since the film is so entertaining. Plus, everyone’s favorite Greek, John Stamos, is now a part of the cast, so really, how much can fans complain?
Ultimately, audiences who loved “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” will want to RSVP for its sequel. It may not be the best “Wedding” you’ll ever go to, but it’s still a whole lot of fun.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” is now playing in theaters everywhere.
For more information, visit the film’s official website.