In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it.
What can I say about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 that hasn’t already been said about the bereavement card section of the Hallmark store? It’s saccharine, unfunny, and leaves one with the feeling that purchasing sentiment is worse than saying nothing at all. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the sequel to a mediocre film based on a one-woman show fourteen years after the fact. As such, it’s just as diluted as you’d expect. The original film was a smash hit, setting box office records for romantic comedies, spinning off into a tv show, and even making a sort of cultural brand of the moniker “My Big Fat” (anyone else remember My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé?). While it’s certainly not to my taste, it’s easy to see why it was such a hit. Nia Vardalos’ script, despite being absent of any real character work, was a delightful romp filled with broad, mom-friendly humor. At the center was a star waiting to be born. Vardalos’ charm and unconventional good looks made her a bankable everywoman, while the trials and tribulations she faced at the hands of her helicopter family are universally relatable, even for non-Greeks.
But the sequel … ugh.
MBFGW2 picks up roughly 17 years after the events of the original film, and Toula (Vardalos) is in a bit of a rut. Her college-bound daughter seems distant, her marriage is growing bland, and her father (still oddly obsessed with maintaining racial purity) just found out that an error on his marriage certificate means that he and his wife aren’t actually married. So now it’s up to Toula to plan yet another wedding, preferably of the big fat Greek variety.
The film takes a sort of “all your favorites are back” approach, blissfully unaware that each and every character has been completely forgotten, and were hardly characters in the first place. Let’s go through the roster. There’s Dad, who knows three words: Greek, Opa, and Wedding. There’s Mom, who is irritated by Dad. There’s cousin what’s-his-name (Joey Fatone, slowly turning into Guy Fieri). There’s husband bland-face (John Corbett, slowly turning into Jeff Bridges). And who could forget Aunt something-or-other? Me. I could forget her, because much like everyone else, she’s not really a character. Oh wait, did I mention their daughter (henceforth referred to as “daughter”)? She’s there too, in the loosest sense of the word “there.” Sprinkle a little John Stamos on top (he seriously just shows up, smiles at the camera, and leaves) and you’ve got yourself a film that ends long before it gets going.
I’m sure less discerning viewers will find something to enjoy here – it’s harmless no matter how you slice it – but mostly I found myself in shock over how certifiable the entire cast is. As this too-large ensemble tears through each set-piece behaving like legitimate maniacs, they go from endearingly weird to “someone should call security and have them bring weapons” pretty quickly. And while the collective bull in the metaphorical china shop tramples over the three or so post-it notes that likely served as a script, Nia Vardalos looks upon the action with dead eyes (she blinks maybe three times in the whole film) as she waits for her next “good grief” moment. It’s a shockingly dull performance from an actress who usually exudes charisma.
This is the most frustrating part of all. After the original film, Vardalos was an exciting new talent, poised to predate Tina Fey in terms of bringing her Second City chops to a wide audience. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 suggests that the creative well wasn’t very deep to begin with. I hope this isn’t true, but if a tired sequel to a forgotten film is all that can be dredged up, I’m not holding my breath.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 opens today in Philly area theaters.