It’s been more than a decade since we first met Toula Portokalos and her big, fat Greek family. But the whole crew return to the screen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. But while the first film found Toula rebelling against what was expected of her, it’s sequel finds her firmly entrenched in the familial prying and smothering she once sought to escape.
We’ll have to forgive the math somewhat here, Toula and Ian now have a 17-year-old, Paris, who like her mother before her is having a hard time coping with the family, and wants to go away for college.
Meanwhile, Toula’s been an ever-present mom for so long, she’s struggling with her daughter’s independence, prompting her to heap all sorts of extra care and worry onto her parents. Gus and Maria are only to happy to accept this and pry with their granddaughter as they did their daughter, but the pattern is interrupted when Gus discovers that their marriage certificate was never signed and they technically aren’t married.
The freedom she never knew she had prompts Maria to rethink everything in her life, giving Toula one more thing to fret over. However, this also provides another excuse for the rest of the family to mix in, and that’s really what we all came to see, right? Right.
Where My Big Fat Greek Wedding felt fresh in its own time, the magic has faded somewhat. This cast is still a joy to watch, but the years haven’t done much to change the core conflict in the story they are telling. The film feels more like an addendum than a standalone effort, and that’s no crime when your story is life, but it does make its predecessor prerequisite for enjoyment here.
The best thing about this is that we get to see all of the old guard trot out and do what they do best. Michael Constantine still does Greek pride and etymology better than anyone and Andrea Martin still gives out the best and most uncomfortable advice and Aunt Voula. If anything feels out of sorts with the core cast it’s surely that Toula has lost herself after spending so long finding herself, but sometimes the need for conflict just wins out.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is not the rare sequel that eclipses what came before it, but neither is it a shame or a wasted effort (looking at you Zoolander 2). This ultimately feels like a story made out of deep love and a earnest desire to give fans more of what they embraced back in 2002. And in truth, it mostly manages that. It’s difficult not to be charmed by this ensemble, even if the end result won’t be an experience as lasting as what came before it.