Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, and Joey Fatone, Elena Kampouris, Gia Carides, Alex Wolff

Opa! My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a knockout indie hit from 2002. If the sequel would have been released the next year or two, it would just feel like an easy cash cow. Writer and star Nia Vardalos took her time and only recently found inspiration to bring back the Portokalos family who are now crazier than ever. Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel all that long along that nerdy Toula (Vardalso) fell in love and married Ian Miller (Corbett). Seventeen years have passed in the movie’s timeline and their daughter Paris (Kampouris) is now a moody teen looking to distance herself from her parents and her extended family. College is on the horizon, and so is the prom. Grandpa Gus (Constantine) wants her to marry a Greek boy, and Toula and Ian want her to attend a school in their hometown of Chicago. With Paris being the center of attention, Toula and Ian have grown into their marriage to the point where they no longer spend their time and energy on themselves. Thankfully Andrea Martin’s saucy Aunt Voula can come to the rescue with bedroom advice as a way to rekindle their marriage. Paris and her parents aren’t the only members of the family going through an identity crisis. Gus becomes obsessed with his ancestry in hopes of linking the family to Alexander the Great. In the midst of his research he finds out that his marriage certificate to Maria (Kazan) was never signed. He wants to get married again, but she holds out until he is willing to go through with a proper proposal.

We are currently in a pop culture frenzy where we like to see our favorite movies, TV shows, or even musical groups rebooted to rev our love of nostalgia. This year alone we saw Zoolander and Full House come back into our lives. Fourteen years have passed since the first My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and unlike some of these other comedy sequels, it fully acknowledges this passage of time by having the characters age and enter the story in a different place then the last time we saw them. It wasn’t just Vardalos who we loved from this first film, it was the whole extended family because we all have a relative that seems over bearing or at least a little nutty. Luckily Vardalos was able to convince the entire original cast to come back including: John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, and Joey Fatone. New to this one are Rita Wilson and John Stamos as a new family they meet at church. Wilson also produces the movie with hubby Tom Hanks. It should come as no surprise that Andrea Martin completely steals the movie as Aunt Voula. I would listen to her give sex advice any given day of the week. Each and every scene she is in had me in stitches.

Vardalos easily could have rehashed the first one by having Toula and Ian renewing their vows. Instead she makes it a multi-generational story about how marriage and relationships affect three generations of the family. Toula and Ian’s story feels like it has the least amount of screen time devoted to it. The movie starts out leading you to think that daughter Paris is getting married at an early age, but that’s far from it. Vardalos goes in the opposite direction with the wedding in the title referring to Gus and Maria’s wedding. Sure it’s a bit far fetched in a realistic sense, but this is rom-com after all.

All of the spunk and zaniness from the first film is back. I was pleasantly surprised that the sequel doesn’t feel dated or any kitschier than the first film. There are many returning jokes from the first like Gus using Windex to cure any ailment; there is also the running gag about linking various words back to the Greek language. These bits are used sparingly as a nod to the first and not as a way to recycle laughs. It’s a wildly funny and entertaining romp from start to finish especially in the finale when the big wedding becomes a three-ring circus of mishaps.

You don’t have to be Greek to appreciate the family values and culture at hand with the Portokalos family. You don’t even need to see the first film to be in on the jokes with this one. It doesn’t set out to be the most original comedy of the year, so it seems foolish to hold it up to some lofty standard. I also don’t believe Vardalos is trying to top her original movie. The original felt fresh and interesting, as we hadn’t seen a rom-com like that before. Vardalos isn’t your typical ingénue like a Reese Witherspoon or Meg Ryan type. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 acts like that family reunion where you can catch up with a bunch of goofy relatives you haven’t seen in while. You’ll laugh and have a good time for the short period of time you spend with them.

Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Far better than I would have ever expected.


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