BY EVANS KOUKIOS
Critic Rating: A
A sequel to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” opened in movie theaters March 25. Like everything else about “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” the release date was cleverly chosen. That day is the national holiday equivalent our 4th of July, Greek Independence Day.
Both the original 2002 movie and the new release are based on the life experience of the writer, Nia Vardalos, growing up in Greek family. A screenwriter, Vardalos, plays the role of Toula Portokalos, whose wedding to non-Greek Ian Miller (John Corbett) was the basis of the first movie.
Where to continue the story is also cleverly solved by Vardalos. In a genre billed as “romantic comedy,” the new wedding involves the oldest generation. Toula’s parents, Gus, played by Michael Constantine, and his wife Maria Portokalos, played by Lainie Kazan, had to be married again because Gus discovered that their marriage certificate from 50 years earlier had not been signed by the priest in Greece. So a generation of senior citizens goes about having the “big, fat, Greek wedding,” making for a poignant and humorous plot. This is actually one of three subplots, that includes the problem-solving antics of “contemporary,” lovable and wise Aunt Voula, Maria’s sister, played by Andrea Martin.
Toula and her husband Ian, who were married in the first movie, are the middle generation. They now have 17-year-old daughter Paris Miller, played by Elena Kampouris, who is a senior in high school. Being parents and worrying about their daughter’s upbringing has complications, not least of which is a waning midlife sexlife. In trying to rekindle their romance, not everything goes smoothly. The middle generation also has to take care of parents, making this a thoughtful rendition of issues discussed in a lifespan psychology course.
Finally, we have a new generation in the cast, foremost of which is Toula’s daughter, Paris. She has to decide where to go to school, but her family, of course, doesn’t want her to leave Chicago. The entire extended family lives next door to each other in their Greek enclave of neighborhood houses. Plus, the older generation believes it’s time for Paris to get married to a Greek boy. Throughout the movie, the cast of the extended family just happens to show up at all the “right” or “wrong” times. This contrivance adds a host of other mini stories that are intertwined with the main subplots. I didn’t share the details of all the stories in this movie, but rather, left it to the viewers to experience for themselves.
Finally, I think the screenplay is worthy of a printed, published version. Despite some mixed reviews, this Greek reviewer believes Vardalos carefully crafted a sweet, charming and cleverly funny story. It has a poignant psychological underpinning and is well portrayed in film by director, Kirk Jones. I predict, like the first, this film will be viewed multiple times by moviegoers, and the seeds for the next sequel are in this film as well.