My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This could have been called My Big Fat Asian Wedding as the film rang more than a little true at times. Also it makes a nice change to have a film that actually seems to have real people as opposed to a Hollywood Alternative Reality™.  

Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) narrates the beginning of the film with the explanations that all Greek women are placed on this Earth for three reasons; to marry a Greek man, to have Greek Children and to feed everyone until the day she dies. She’s a ‘seating hostess’ (which really means waitress) in the family restaurant, the Dancing Zorbas. Her father, Gus (Michael Constantine) thinks she’s over the hill as she’s 30 and still hasn’t gotten married.  

Deciding to transform herself and her life, Toula ditches her frumpy glasses, has herself a make-over and decides that there is more to life than the three reasons for being a Greek woman. With the support of her mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan), Toula manages to convince her father to let her work in a travel agent (still within the extended family businesses of course).  

With a new look and a new life Toula manages to meet a school teacher called Ian Miller and they start dating. After a while Ian decide to pop the question to Toula and happily she accepts. Unfortunately, Ian is the only child of a straight laced, upper class couple and Toula has a typical Greek family, roughly the size of a small country. With these two people, who are in love and a wedding on the cards, it means that the two families must met and plan the event. Sounds simple enough, but as Toula points out “No one in our family has ever gone out with a non-Greek” and her parents regard Ian (and his parents) as being not good enough for their little girl.  

Nia Vardalos, who’s excellent as Toula, also wrote the one woman play on which the film is based. The idea that two people who are perfect for each other and yet their families are not isn’t a new one, but she manages to give it a fresh new feel. The film is just filled with a warmth of characters that cannot fail to make you smile. For those who do have large extended families, some of them might even be familiar. The tone of heritage and the baggage that goes with it is strong throughout the film, but it’s also the key element of the film.  

The performances are very good and very natural, with the two leads having great chemistry between them. This isn’t a Hollywood glossy romance, but a genuine one where the leads are in no danger of being dumped – the wedding would have happened regardless. Vardalos performance is stand out, but seeing that the material is based on her own personal history and the fact that she has had time to perfect herself with her stage show, so it comes as no surprise.  

The character traits that are abundant within the film are amongst the highlights. For example, Toula’s dad, Gus, believes that every word can be traced back to its Greek routes and that there are two types of people in the world; those who are Greek and those who wish they were Greek. Lainie Kazan as Toula’s buxomly and supportive mother is a character who, although completely Greek, understands that her children are bi-cultural and might not want what their parents think is best for them. 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is ultimately a comedy of acceptance and stands out as one of the successes of the year, even amongst the summer blockbusters. Hopefully, studios will take note that it doesn’t need a huge budget, hundreds of CGI shots or a monster marketing campaign for a hit movie. It avoids the gross out comedy routine completely and therefore appeals to an ‘older’ audience.  

It’s a delightful, low-budget film that has a heart warming quality and is probably one of the best date films of the year.

Score 7/10

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