This is a spoiler-ish review, so be warned if you want to go see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and you don’t want any of the plot points ruined.
We all know that it’s tough to pull off a successful movie sequel, especially when the original film is a surprise monster hit. I’ve heard it said that it’s especially tough to pull off a successful sequel to a comedy, and I can understand why that would be true. So much of a what makes a comedy funny is the element of surprise. I find that I laugh most at things when they are completely new and unexpected. With My Big Fat Greek Wedding, so much of what made that movie work was the element of surprise. When audiences were first introduced to these characters, they were so funny and fresh and crazy that it was nearly impossible not to fall in love with them. Of course, one of the other really important elements in the original film that made it successful was the authenticity of it. Nia Vardalols wrote the original screenplay based on her own life and her own experience marrying a non-Greek man (Ian Gomez, for the record). I don’t know much about Vardalos’s life. I don’t know if she has a college-aged daughter, for example, or if her parents had to have a wedding after 50 years of being together because they discovered that their marriage certificate was not signed. I’d be willing to bet these things did not actually happen to Vardalos, though, becuase they read as completely inauthentic in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
Listen, I’m a big fan of the original movie. I saw it several times in theaters, and I own the DVD. It’s one of my go-to movies! How many times have I said “That’s okay, I make lamb,” or “Put some Windex on it” over the years? Too many to count, I tell ya. And, on some level, as a fan, it was fun seeing these characters again. There were some funny moments, to be sure, but there was also just something missing from this movie.
For one thing, the comedic timing was off for much of the movie. Many of the jokes seemed to fall flat and then linger in silence for a few seconds before the characters continued speaking. I also did not like the daughter, Paris. The interactions between Paris and her parents were awkward, and not in the way that all interactions between teenagers and their parents are awkward. It just felt more like Paris wasn’t part of Toula’s big crazy family. I mean, the story line about whether Paris will choose to go to Northwestern or NYU? Does anyone care? When she initially chooses Northwestern, I didn’t feel the sense of relief that I think I supposed to feel. When she changes her mind and chooses to move to New York, I also didn’t feel what I think I was supposed to feel (sadness? trepidation?). All I thought about was the fact that the movie opened with Toula talking about how times were tough in a failing economy. The travel agency closed and the dry-cleaners closed. The only family business that stayed open was the family restaurant. And yet, they can afford to pay out of state tuition in one of the most expensive cities in the United States? I would have tried to convince Paris to go to Northwestern just to avoid the expense of NYU! And the story line about Toula’s parents getting married also seemed forced. I said it earlier, but there was something organic and authentic about Toula and Ian’s wedding. Gus and Maria’s wedding felt forced and, well, fake.
But as I mentioned, it was nice to see the whole gang again. Aunt Voula was great, as were cousins Angela and Angelo. The best story line in the movie, though, revolved around Toula and Ian, which was also the case with the first film. After years of marriage, the romance and spark had faded slightly for these two. Toula is busy with a teenage daughter and a demanding family, so she needs to learn to make her marriage a priority. Nia Vardalos and John Corbett still have great chemistry, and it was nice to see Toula and Ian working on their marriage as a major plot point of the movie, showing that even when couples do live happily ever after, it still requires work and patience.
Long story short, this sequel is just for the fans of the original, but just barely. As I mentioned, it was nice to see everyone again, but I probably would have had more fun just popping in the DVD of the original.