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My Big Fat Greek Wedding
2002 - PG-13 - 94 Mins.
Director: Joel Zwick
Producer: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Gary Goetzman
Written By: Nia Vardalos
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone
Review by: Carl Langley
   
Talk about the Little Engine that could – and did not stop! What started out as a one-woman stage show, 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' turned into a multi-million extravaganza, and spun off a TV series “My Big Fat Greek Life.” With a budget of only five million dollars, My Big Fat Greek Wedding surpassed the infamous The Blair Witch Project as the highest-grossing independent film of all time. More impressively, the Greek film blew by 'Dances with Wolves' to become the highest grossed film never to have hit number one at the box office. $241,250,669 later, the Little Greek Engine is still expending steam on video.

Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, serve as two of the producers for 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'. Wilson had a chance to view the one-woman stage show and recommended to her husband that he produce a movie version. The creator, Nia Vardalos received a phone call from Hanks, asking to attain the right to create the movie, and thinking it was a prank, hung up on the star. It is ostensible Tom Hanks is a distinguished man and I can understand what was going through Vardalos’ head.

The story is simple, which agrees with every other romantic comedy. Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) was raised and taught everything essential in Greek fashion. She is thirty years old and still works as a seating hostess in her father’s (Michael Constantine) diner, Dancing Zorba’s. On another dreary day, when she has just about given up hope on finding love, Ian (John Corbett) walks in. Standing awe-struck, her brief encounter sets her out on a quest to improve her demeanor, working status, and education.

Her father, Gus, balks at sending her to school, but her mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan), persuades him to let her enroll. After an appreciable enhancement in her life, she begins to work for her aunt’s travel agency. Here she touches shoulders with Ian again, only this time, they are both infatuated with each other. Ian and Toula begin to date and eventually become engaged, which causes an emotional fracas inside the family.

Her father has repeatedly stressed the importance of the three most important rules for a young Greek woman – marry a Greek boy, make lots of Greek babies, and feed everyone for the rest of your life. When he discovers his daughter is associated with a non-Greek, he goes berserk. With conviction, Gus desensitizes his Greek nationalist attitude and recognizes his daughter is truly in love. Ian adapts to the family, tolerating farce threats from Toula’s jejunely brother (Louis Mandylor) and specially cooked lamb from Maria, even though he is a vegetarian. This is the type of drollery used to show the troubles Ian has accustoming to his new culture. The rest is straightforward, leading the inevitable wedding day.

'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' offers a gentle touch of ethnic comedy. It never goes outside the boundaries and becomes deriding or ruthless, but instead gives warm-hearted lines poking fun at non-Greeks. The object is not to pinpoint any certain race, as the waggish cracks would function well on all ethnic groups. The Greek satire never entices the viewer to roll on the floor in laughter either, but has several whimsical scenes. Gus provides some of the funnier moments with his tiny quirks. For instance, his belief that Windex will heal any health qualm or infection and his claim that every word has a Greek origin are well worth clamorous laughs, even though the quips are reciprocated.

Nia Vardalos may have wonderfully written the screenplay, but she magically makes us believe the Cinderella story. As the plump, laxly Toula in the beginning, her visage is credible, which also goes for when she transforms into the made over, elegant lady Ian falls for. Michael Constantine is the best as the advocated father having trouble accepting the cross-cultural marriage. The characters are written in tune, which makes a film more enjoyable to watch.

If there are any flaws, it is the genre familiarity. TV sitcom director Joel Zwick seems to be stuck in his “Family Matters” and “Laverne and Shirley” mode and does not try hard enough to wander out of that zone. The recurring jokes of the outlandish Gus tend to be weary towards the end. Nevertheless, the blemishes can be look past because 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' rings its unique bells and will win over many hearts.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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