Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Movie Review - My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Featuring a cast of people I'd mostly never heard of (apart from co-star John Corbett, who I knew from Northern Exposure), this movie was one I'd loved in the cinema. Having just watched it again on DVD, I'm glad to say that it has made the journey to the small screen very successfully indeed.

As you may have guessed from the film's title even if you haven't seen it, this film is about a Greek wedding. Toula is a frumpy 30 year-old Greek woman working in the family restaurant wishing her life was different. Her family, and particularly her father (wonderfully played by Michael Constantine) wish that too - except they wish she would get married to a nice Greek boy and produce lots of Greek babies. Her father's favourite game is "give me a word, any word, and I will show you how the origin of the word is Greek, and has brought his crazy mother to live with them - she thinks they're still at war with the Turks...

But Toula persists and changes her life, being given a lesson by her mother along the way that, although the man is the head of the house, it's the woman that controls the head... She changes her image and job, and begins to find real happiness in the form of Ian Miller (John Corbett).

However, he is not a nice Greek boy and all hell breaks loose in the household. As for the rest of the story... well, you'll have to watch it for yourself.
The main reason this works so well on the small screen is that there are no huge stunts or spectacular special effects, the humour is all derived from some pretty sharply observed cultural observations and character development. When I saw it in the cinema, there was a section of the audience in front of us who must have been Greek as they were absolutely wetting themselves laughing at some of the scenes. Okay so the characters are rather stereotyped, but they're funny. The humour runs consistently throughout the film and there are indeed a few belly laughs to be had here.

The film is maybe a little predictable but I did not find that this spoiled my enjoyment of the film. (And let's face it, when I watched it on DVD I already knew the entire storyline...) The ending is definitely sweet enough for us sentimentalists (after all, we are the sort of people who generally watch romantic comedies) with being Saccharine-coated. It has a pretty high replay factor, as it's one of those films you can just sit back and enjoy without any real effort.

The cast does well, I don't know how many of them were actually Greek but they were pretty convincing if they weren't. The scene where the parents (one set of which is, of course, very much NOT Greek) meet one another is very funny, watch out for it.

So there's not really much more I can say. It's funny, sweet, and based on a vaguely original premise (there are millions of comedies based around weddings, but at least this is Greek one!).

May favourite line from the film is delivered by Toula's cousin Nick as last-minute advice on the eve of her wedding(from memory so not word-perfect, I suspect!:

Nick: "Don't let your past dictate who you are, but let your past be part of who you become".

Toula: "That's very deep."

Nick: "Yeah, Aunt Abi's got a lot of wisdom like that".

Other romantic comedies:

How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days
Never Been Kissed
French Kiss
Two Weeks Notice
About a Boy
Legally Blonde 2
Bringing down the House
Look Who's Talking Now

Full cast list

As if you need such a thing... but here goes anyway...

Nia Vardalos ...Toula Portokalos
John Corbett ...Ian Miller
Lainie Kazan ...Maria Portokalos
Michael Constantine ...Gus Portokalos
Gia Carides ...Nikki
Louis Mandylor ...Nick Portokalos
Bess Meisler ...Yiayia
Bruce Gray ...Rodney Miller
Fiona Reid ...Harriet Miller
Ian Gomez ...Mike
Jayne Eastwood ...Mrs. White
Andrea Martin ...Aunt Voula
Joey Fatone ...Angelo
Christina Eleusiniotis ...Toula at 6
Kaylee Vieira ...Schoolgirl
John Kalangis ...Greek Teacher
Marita Zouravlioff ...Toula at 12
Sarah Osman ...Athena at 15
Petra Wildgoose ...Car Pool Friend
Melissa Todd ...Car Pool Friend
Gerry Mendicino ...Taki
Stavroula Logothettis ...Athena
Constantine Tsapralis ...Foti
Frank Falcone ...Suitor
Eugene Martel ...Suitor
Joe Persechini ...Suitor
Peter Xynnis ...Suitor
Anthony Kandiotis ...Priest
Nick Kutsukos ...Bouzouki Player
Peter Tharos ...Yianni
Chrissy Paraskevopoulos ...Cousin Jennie
Maria Vacratsis ...Aunt Freida
Kathryn Haggis ...Marianthi
Gale Garnett ...Lexy
Charlene Bitzas ...Nota
Chris Savides ...Greek Chanter
Constantine Vardalos ...Greek Chanter
Scott Khouri ...Waiter
John Tsifliklis ...Wedding Singer
Peter Chalkiopoulos ...Wedding Band Member
Peter Gogos ...Wedding Band Member
Spiro Milankou ...Wedding Band Member
Victor Politis ...Wedding Band Member
Jim Rouvas ...Wedding Band Member
Arielle Sugarman ...Paris


This film made it into my - Top Ten Romantic Comedies List

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