MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2, the long-awaited sequel to the box-office smash hit from 2002, keeps you laughing.
By Elaine Thomopoulos
I loved MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING the first and second time I saw it. But after my grandchildren kept playing the video again and again and again, I had enough. It was me to stanio — with reluctance — that I accompanied my husband Nick to see Nia Vardalos’s MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2. I told Nick, “We’ll leave if we don’t like it.” Not for one minute did we consider leaving. The fast-paced movie kept us laughing.
The actors are the same as those in the earlier movie, and they have retained the talent and camaraderie that endeared them to me in the first flick. The movie picks up 18 years after the marriage of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) and the non-Greek Ian (John Corbett). Elena Kampouris, who plays their 17-year-old daughter Paris, is a fresh and welcome addition to the cast.
The wedding in the second movie is of Toula’s mother Maria (Lainie Kazan) and father Gus (Michael Constantine). Gus steals the show, with his grumpiness, his pouting, and his relating all words back to their Greek origins. Strong-willed Maria is also a show-stopper, laughing and saying, “I’m a hippy,” when Gus tells her that they aren’t legally married. She won’t get married again until she gets a proper proposal, not like the first, “Will you go to America with me?”
He won’t propose. Like the women in the play “Lysistrata,” Maria goes on strike. Not only won’t she sleep with Gus, but she won’t give him his pills, clean the house, or do the laundry. He gets stuck in the bathtub because of his bum hip. When the paramedics carry him off, she says she isn’t going with him to the hospital. From his stretcher, he pleads, “Maria, will you marry me?”
The wedding planning is like that of the first movie — zany and goofy. When the wedding planner dumps Maria, disgusted with the family’s choices of a multi-colored cake, pink limousine, etc., the family takes charge. Then the fun begins.
Watch the trailer for MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2
Everything works out until they arrive at the church. Maria, bedecked in a white, flowing dress, decides she will not go through with the marriage because inebriated Gus isn’t taking her seriously. Like in all happy Greek families, everything is resolved. The couple behave like newlyweds, holding hands and kissing, and the outdoor reception rivals that of the one in “Father of the Bride,” but with a wild Greek flair.
The movie also addressed the relationship between Toula and Ian, and their being caught in the “sandwich generation.” They not only feel responsible for taking care of their daughter, but also for taking care of Toula’s parents, which leaves a hole in their own relationship.
One of the reasons I liked this movie is that I can relate it to my own experience in a close-knit Greek family.
Also, Toula’s daughter Paris reminded me of my eldest daughter Marie, and especially her 17-year-old daughter Lauren. Paris is smart and beautiful, and aloof to her parents. She is trying to separate from her mother and the rest of the family, including her grandfather who tells her she needs to find a nice Greek boy.
Toula, whose whole life revolves around her daughter, hopes she will choose a college close to home. As a mom, I can certainly relate. You’ll have to watch it to see if Paris selects a college close to home, or just finds herself a nice Greek boy.
I highly recommend this movie, where the Portokalos family solves all their problems, and the love that emanates from each and every one of them is palpable. Despite some of its flaws, e.g., slapstick comedy, goofy jokes, and the stereotyping of the Greek family — or maybe because of them — I found the movie refreshing. The movie plays out like a Big Fat Greek Fairytale, but sometimes we need a break from reality.
Elaine Thomopoulos wrote History of Greece, and edited the Greek Women’s University Club’s book, Greek-American Pioneer Women of Illinois. She also directed the Greeks of Berrien County Project, resulting in a publication as well as an exhibit now on display at the Annunciation and St. Paraskevi Greek Orthodox Church in New Buffalo, Michigan. She has been managing editor of “Books” and “Greek American Scientists,” special issues of The National Herald newspaper, and has written numerous articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals. Elaine has been active in the Greek-American community for many years. She is the former director of social services for the Hellenic Foundation. In this capacity, she opened its first office as well as initiated a multifaceted program that served 3,000 Greek immigrants and their children each year. As administrator of Greek-American Community Services, she developed and directed numerous programs, including services for the elderly, and humanities and arts programs.