'My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2' review: Forgettably pleasant
In 2002, a year when adventurous hobbits, prepubescent wizards, amorous spies, and a superhero ruled the box office, the awkward romance between the daughter of Greek immigrants and a non-Greek school teacher seemed an unlikely candidate to rake in millions of dollars.
Yet it did. Joel Zwick’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding turned out to be the little film that could. The otherwise conventional comedy on a family that possesses every possible stereotype charmed its way to mainstream consciousness, earning for itself a place in that year’s list of blockbusters.
The expected sequel
The first film ended with the eponymous wedding, which would have suggested a sequel a few years after.
For whatever reason, that sequel only happened 14 years after, and it is as every bit predictable as the original material. Despite the stark cultural differences, the couple happily married. However, years into their marriage, they face several problems – including a teenage daughter that pines for independence, aging parents that cannot seem to handle things on their own, and a whole slew of other familiar fillers.
Several years after her wedding and several pounds lighter, Toula (Nia Vardalos) is busy living the life of a loyal wife, an overbearing mom, and a dutiful daughter. Paris (Elena Kampouris), her daughter, is on her way to college.
Her father, Kostas (Michael Constantine), suddenly discovers that his marriage was never formally officiated, forcing him to win back the heart of her mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan).
Toula's husband, Ian (John Corbett), who is quietly observing the madness happening in his adopted Greek family, now feels like their marriage has lost a lot of romance.
Vardalos, who also wrote the screenplay, seemed to cram more than a decade’s worth of material within a single film. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 feels every bit as crowded as the huge family it pokes fun at.
Luckily, director Kirk Jones juggles the disparate bits and pieces of its story with ample sensitivity. The film never feels like it is without a point, detailing the hilarious miseries the characters have landed into after so many years with a palpable tenderness that is mostly reserved for beloved icons.
More importantly, the sequel never lets go of the off-kilter charms that made the first film feel like a novelty.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 never really graduates from the sitcom-like grooves of its predecessor as it parades gags one after the other, even if most of these gags are old and tired.
Somehow, everything is tolerable. The film has all the charisma of a close relative whose quirks would otherwise been gross and grating had you not lived with him for the past few years.
Simply put, the sequel is salvaged by the familiarity it holds dear. Comedies are no longer made to be this quaint and harmless. They are all pushing the envelope, when it comes to what could be tolerated in this culture of brash diversity.
While the film borders on crassness at some point, it never really tries its luck on the material. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 only seeks to be pleasant.
Sure, it will end up being the forgettable sequel to the film, which in hindsight does not deserve all the accolades it earned. But at least, during the one and a half hours that you have shared with the noisy family whose neuroses are too comical to be real, you were sufficiently entertained.
And that is all that matters, until of course the next conventional comedy comes along. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.