Family always sticks together in director Kirk Jones’ “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” a good-natured comedy that reunites the cast of the first movie with overused clichs, stereotypes, and atrociously annoying characters. Written by and starring Nia Vardalos, the story continues almost two decades later, as the extremely close and loud Greek family prepares for another wedding.
Toula (Vardalos), and her husband, Ian (John Corbett), have been trying to keep the spark alive in their marriage while facing the realization that their daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), wants to move away for college, to escape Toula’s overbearing Greek family. But when Toula helps her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), chart out his family ancestry, Gus discovers that his marriage certificate was never signed, and he and his wife, Maria (Lianie Kazan), were never technically married. Now the family must plan a new wedding, one that is going to be even bigger and “Greek-er” than the first.
It’s always nice when a sequel is able to bring the cast of the original back for a new adventure, especially with a gap of fourteen years between films. The actors, returning and comfortably dropping into their characters, play off one another with humorous chemistry that often devolves into situational screwball comedy. If the story can be made more comedic and awkward by throwing the entire family onto the screen, the film is going to do it.
Unfortunately, this is also a major draw-back for the story as a whole. Vardalos’ Toula is written in a way that allows the audience to identify with her. But any sympathy one feels, regarding her hovering relatives, is soon discarded when Toula follows her daughter, Paris, with the same intensity and furor that she so vehemently opposes from her family. Vardalos has at least written the character to be aware of this hypocrisy, but the angle is not properly pursued. This action is hindered by the film’s laboriously slow pacing; the audience may be surprised to discover that only 94 minutes pass during the time the story transpires.
The writing places too much emphasis on Greeks never changing, while trying to simultaneously have its characters develop and mature. As a result, the filmmakers are forced to seek catharsis between these two contrasting viewpoints: The characters gradually come to terms with the notion that they become like the generation before them, but they are shown to “change” by accepting this transformation instead of fighting against it. Ultimately, it does not feel like an entirely successful angle has been pursued by the filmmakers.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” from director Kirk Jones, is a fairly-innocent, well-intentioned comedy that is held back by its collection of overly-annoying characters and sluggish, lopsided pacing. Fans of the first film are sure to enjoy the continuing, amusing antics of an extremely connected family, but audiences in general may be deterred by the excessive, stereotypical characters and their obtrusive, overbearing actions.
My grade: 4.5 out of 10 stars.
(Timothy Hogg is a copy editor for The Derrick./The News-Herald. He has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at timothyhogg.thederrickgmail.com.)