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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) IFC Films
1 hr. 34 mins.
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Micheal Constantine
Directed by: Joel Zwick


My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Rating:

  E-MAIL GIANCARLO DE LISI

Photo: IFC Films


Writer-Star Nia Vardalos has been a relatively quiet actress for quite some time. She has made some appearances in notable television shows such as ‘The Drew Carey Show’ and ‘Boy Meets World’. Her acting in film has been limited to low budget films and she had never up to this point been able to captivate an audience and raise her stock – until now.

‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ is an interesting little film containing some fun ethnocentric humor making it hard to turn away from. While it might not be the most sophisticated piece of film to come our way, this film tells a story and that is the sole focus of the film. Director Joel Zwick’s first foray into cinema proves successful holistically due to Vardalos’ witty and relevant script. The film at times seem played out in the tradition of a long television show and contains many bits of sitcom-esque gags that do not quite work on the big screen, but as a whole, this film works and is pulled by the authentic performance of Nia Vardalos.

Vardalos stars as Fortoula Portokalos, a thirty something single woman working in her constrictive father’s restaurant. As the days pass, she becomes restless and aspires for something more than waiting tables. And so begins the journey of our character as she enrolls in college, undergoes a major transformation and finds employment in her aunt’s travel agency. Thus allowing her exposure to the real world and enabling her to meet the man of her dreams.

The only problem with this man is – he is not of Greek origin. The film conveys the importance of her mate being Greek and shows the family in complete disarray upon her announcement of the couple. It is made clear by the man of the house, Toula’s father; Gus Portokalos, played with warmth and stubbornness by Michael Constantine, those non-Greek are not welcome. One needed improvement was the sitcom-esque running gag for a period within the film when Toula’s father would bring home a prospective candidate for her love. Of course, they were all Greek, yet they did not have that quality Toula wanted. Although the scenes were barely seconds in length, so much more could have been done to give this transition in the film some depth and longevity, instead, we are suckered into a cheap laugh merely upon their appearance and the film cuts back to Toula and her love interest in love once again against all wishes.

John Corbett plays the all American boy; Ian Miller, and finally gets a chance to show Hollywood he has a hint of leading man status, but that trait is quickly brushed off as the focal point of the film is Toula’s character. The entrance of the WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) character; Ian Miller, permits some comical scenes in which the respective families are compared for their celebrations, their ideologies and their food.

Despite the flaws mentioned, it is still a worthy watch simply for the at times exaggerated actions of the family members. Being a Canadian of strong Italian Origin, I found myself relating to the cookouts, the overwhelmingly large families and the togetherness that stands at the heart of this innocent film. While it might not be the most clinical film made, Vardalos’ script is what drives this film. As easily as it was able to captivate Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson to produce the film, it will captivate your attention for its’ duration in an innocent and fantasy-like way.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi
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