My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Family Overdose

Nia Vardalos

Kirk Jones

Movie Review
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2:Family Overdose!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 - Family Overdose!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the sequel to the runaway success by the same name released in 2002.

The movie opens to the strains of peppy, Greek music which serves as the background to a chaotic car pool for school children whom, as we see, all belong to the same extended family. That’s right, all the family members live next door to each other, with Yaya (grandmother) Maria Portokalos (Lainie Kazan) and Opa’s (grandfather) Kostas Portokalos (Michael Constantine) house in the centre, a sprawling place done up in the vivid Greek colours of white and blue so you couldn’t possibly miss it unless you were a dumb cluck. 

Kostas who is obsessed with finding a Greek boy for his lovely, teenaged granddaughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) suddenly comes across his marriage certificate and finds to his horror that it had never been signed by the priest. Bottom line – he and Maria are not legally married! Maria is initially amused then demands that this time around, Kostas better do it right by a proper proposal. The old man’s ego gets in the way and he refuses. It falls largely on their daughter Toula (Nia Vardalos) to keep the warring parties apart and broker the peace, aided by her husband Ian (John Corbett) brother Nick (Louis Mandylor) and aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) Maria’s sister.

The wedding now takes precedence over all else and the Portokalos clan is roped in with a vengeance after the wedding planner throws up her hands and quits when Maria wants a pink stretch limo and the most godawfully garish wedding cake! No problem – what are families for. One of the nieces is a beautician and does everybody’s hair for the occasion, including old Mana-Yayas’ (Bess Meisler.)Yet another cousin has a friend who has a dress shop and can supply the tuxedos for all the menfolk; the only thing is, the tuxes belonged to band members and so all of them have ‘Funkaters’ emblazoned across the back – including the groom! Ian’s father owns an undertaker parlour and so supplies the flowers for the wedding. With all that’s going on, Toula forgets to book cabs for the ride to the church and so everybody gets to ride in Chicago State police cars because – you got it – one of the nephews is a cop. Maria suddenly has an epiphany in the church and the wedding is temporarily off however, things finally get back on track and a proud Nick walks down the aisle with his momma to give her away and Maria finally gets married just the way she always wanted. 

MBFGW is liberally sprinkled with aphorisms such as: “You baby your parents coz you can’t parent your baby” and the screamingly funny: “You vegetarian, that’s why low sperm,” delivered in Kostas’ inimitable style. There are light moments a-plenty but always with the underlying message that family is indeed everything.  Some of the scenes feel very believable, such as Toula teaching her old father to use the computer, or arm wrestling with her brother even though they are both now adults and of course, the angst with her angry teenager, something that most parents will empathise with. 

Toula is torn on many fronts. Apart from her parents, she has to handle a rebellious teenage daughter who squirms each time the entire clan shows up in full force in front of her friends, and also an increasingly disgruntled husband, who finds she has no time left over for him. A helpless, non-aggressive Toula initially wins the audience sympathy, but we soon find ourselves getting irritated with her coz where is this movie going?!

Considering that the entire sequel hinges on the pivot that Maria and Kostos have never been legally married, it is unfortunate that this is also the weak link of the whole script. It is not very clear how and why Kostas suddenly comes across his marriage certificate. While there are some genuinely hilarious moments, these are few and far between; most of the gags fall flat and this could be due to being lost in translation – if, for instance, Greek jokes are translated into English - although that’s hard to credit seeing as how Vardalos, who is the scriptwriter, was brought up in the west. The script for the prequel was written by her as well and that one did a better job in bringing out family idiosyncrasies. Vardalos has gone on record to state that many people were asking about a sequel and also offering story ideas; it could be that she just put something hastily together to cater to public demand. It has been a long while since part one released and perhaps this story had just run its course, with nothing more to say, which happens when the writer runs out of steam and had no definite ideas for a sequel to follow anyway. 

Nonetheless, MBFGW is a feel-good movie, something the Punjabi and Gujarati segments will completely identify with, since it’s all about family and food – everything becomes a family affair! Family can tend to get claustrophobic sometimes and yet, everything is done out of genuine love and caring, as the film brings out. While there can be no secrets in a family, it is still possible for individuals to have their secrets and so feel stifled and alone even while constantly surrounded by family members, as Joey Fatone’s gay character Angelo reveals.

Kampouris, a startlingly lovely young lady, has performed admirably. The mutinous looks, the disdain, the tears and then the tender, blossoming romance – she has an expressive face and luminous eyes and uses both to emoting advantage. Vardalos, Corbett, Mandylor and Martin prove to be able foils. One wishes there was more of Kazan in this sequel; she is a naturally gifted comic and looks like Bette Midler with mammaritis! Scenes with Meisler are largely redundant and could have faced the scissors. 

Director Kirk Jones could have run a tighter ship, even with the loopholes in the script. Editor Markus Czyzewski has tried to hold the structure together but screenplay and direction both let him down and so what one has is a story that’s funny, but somewhat abrupt in the telling. Music by Christopher Lennertz and cinematography by Jim Denault are both consistent.

What the best thing about the movie is is that all of the characters seem so familiar, as the original cast has largely been retained and the camaraderie and comfort level with each other comes through obviously. Clearly, everybody had a great time shooting for MBFGW2, even if the script lost the plot at times.


   Punam Mohandas

Punam Mohandas is a film buff, a journalist, an author, an accomplished travel writer and an expert on South Asia. She also writes columns on film personalities. She has lived and worked in India, Dubai and Bangkok.

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