My Big Fat Greek Wedding feels like a sitcom pilot blown up to fill a movie screen (and, as you probably know, it will soon become a sitcom). Its characters are little more than stereotypes. It lacks any real warmth or chemistry between its leads. It removes all conflict immediately, thereby removing any real interest, but making the movie “safe,” since nothing unexpected is going to happen. Observe how quickly the problems of Toula going to school and Toula marrying a non-Greek are brought up and then dealt with.
Finally, Toula’s family could easily be the focus of a movie called My Big Fat Italian Wedding or My Big Fat Wookie Wedding. They’re just sort of generically ethnic. I didn’t learn anything new about Greek culture from this wedding.
So why then am I (slightly) recommending this movie?
Because somewhere inside of all of that sitcom icing, there is a real cake full of depth and heart and human spirit. Every so often, it pokes its head out to smile and wave at us and those moments make the movie work. Nia Vardalos’s work as Toula is wonderful and she fills the center of this movie so well that she stops it from being utterly boring almost singlehandedly.
But then she piles on the dumb jokes and the movie slides back into mediocrity.
Indeed, I didn’t feel like I’d wasted my life when I left the theater. It’s fun and undemanding and enjoyable enough. Since it doesn’t really need to be seen on the big screen, seeing it on video won’t be such a big deal.
If you must see a romantic comedy released recently, start with About a Boy. But if you’ve already seen that or it’s all checked out, you can hardly go wrong with Toula and her clan.