The burning question is, “If I loved the first 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,' will I love the second?”
The answer: “Probably.”
If you’ve been missing the nutty Portokalos clan and their zany heartwarming madness, this uneven sequel to the original 2002 record-breaking romantic comedy juggernaut is a little slow, but it delivers somewhat.
When we catch up with the kooky family in 2016, they haven’t changed much, other than incorporating Twitter, iPads and what appears to be some high-quality cosmetic procedures on the actors, because the much-older cast looks amazing. Leads Nia Vardalos and John Corbett are back, and they need to share their skin-care secrets – both haven’t aged a day.
The natural assumption all these years later is that the daughter of the original star-crossed couple (Corbett and Vardalos) is getting married, but that is not the case; in fact their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) is only in high school.
No, the big fat Greek wedding 2.0 is the result of Toula’s (Vardalos) parents discovering their marriage certificate was never signed 50 years ago, so for all these years they’ve been living in sin. The wedding planner naturally quits because Toula’s mother (Lainie Kazan) is, well, zany, and the family must rally to put on a homemade big fat Greek wedding.
But Toula and her Anglo husband Ian (Corbett) have their own issues, caused by middle age, a sullen teenage daughter, and their impending empty nest when Paris eventually leaves for college.
All these themes are layered into the script (written by Vardalos) like a foot-high flaky baklava, which somehow doesn’t quite translate onto the screen with the same warmth as the original. There is a cut-and-paste quality to the sequel that is still charming, but there is one heartstring missing.
A sparkling Rita Wilson, who produced both films, makes a cameo along with John Stamos as her husband. The star power that she brings to the small role is almost distracting, and if it looks odd with John Stamos as her husband in the film, it may be because these are age-appropriate people appearing together in a Hollywood movie as husband and wife, refreshingly. Both are in their 50s.
Some of the “Greek stereotype” comedy feels forced or stiff, but the broader themes, like the family trying to adapt to technology, work better – Gus (Michael Constantine) learning how to use a computer is one of the film’s funniest scenes.
It’s easy to dismiss family romantic comedies as an art form because they don’t have groundbreaking special effects, or inspire philosophical discourse. But they aren’t meant to. Rom-coms are not meant to be thought-provoking, they are meant to be heart-provoking. Mushy. They are certainly not films for everyone, and probably not many husbands or boyfriends will be found in line to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” unless they did something very, very wrong at home.
But like the wonderful 1989 family rom-com “Parenthood,” films like this can make you call your grandmother, or have a little more patience at the next holiday gathering, or appreciate the unique insanity of what we each call “my family.”
This film isn’t as funny as “Parenthood,” or even as good as the original “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” But like roadside diner baklava, if it’s a little dry in places, there’s enough honey to make it sweet.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2"
2 stars (out of four)
Time: 94 minutes
Director: Kirk Jones
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive material