Starring Nia Vardalos. Rated PG.
Though not my fave semi-indie movie of 2002 (that would be Bubba Ho-Tep, in which Bruce Campbell plays an elderly Elvis saving a retirement home from a mummy), My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a pleasant slice-of-life romance that somehow became a massive hit, spawning a television series and a plethora of Big Fat cinema wannabes. I could relate to the mixture of mortification and pride that comes with being an assimilated Other, and without once consciously yearning for more of writer-star Nia Vardalos’s mundane observational humour in the last 14 years, I did tell a guy at hockey the other day that he could fix his sprain with Windex.
So it is a movie that left a cultural mark. I was not entirely reluctant to catch up with the Portokalos clan, a sprawling and brawling immigrant family led by Windex-obsessed patriarch Gus (Michael Constantine), who is the plot engine this time thanks to his discovery that his 50-year marriage to Maria (Lainie Kazan) was never legal. The elders are forced to reconsider their lives, leading to some surprisingly bitter reflections before the matter is solved by Toula (Vardalos), the most pragmatic member of the family. Meanwhile, her daughter with still-hunky Ian (John Corbett) yearns to break away and go to college, which feels like abandonment.
The insecurity and neurosis are never allowed to be drama, thanks to relentless music telling us that this is cheerful quirkiness and, less vexingly, through random interruptions. The vast family allows for a wide range of self-contained bits, including the peerless Andrea Martin dispensing wisdom and comic timing. Like a real family reunion, it is a somewhat exhausting experience, but good enough to make me watch Big Fat Greek Funeral or something.