This heartwarming romantic comedy based on the one-woman show by Nia Vardalos is such a delight that anyone can watch due to its hilarious mix of culture clash and a wonderful love story.
Toula Portokalos has been living a somewhat humdrum life at the age of thirty. Working in the family diner, Toula longs for something more. It is not so much because she wants to live her life, but it is because she has grown tired of her parents’ constant meddling in her life. Her father expects her to marry a Greek man so they can make Greek babies.
However, when Toula finally finds a new job at the family travel agency, she finally meets the man of her dreams, teacher Ian Miller. The problem? He is not Greek so they sneak off for a while until the family has her busted. Despite objections from her father, Toula continues to see Ian and when Ian finally proposes to her, Toula accepts. Ian, wanting to prove himself to Toula’s family, goes to great lengths to ensure that he can be accepted into the family. However, will Toula and Ian be able withstand the constant meddling of her family before the big day comes?
This film has quite an interesting history behind it that results in a beloved sleeper hit. Second City alumnus Nia Vardalos came up with the idea based on her real-life marriage to Ian Gomez, who is non-Greek. Performing a one-woman show about her life as a Greek and the obstacles she faced as she was gearing up to marry Gomez, the show attracted actress Rita Wilson, who then with the support of Wilson’s husband, Tom Hanks, convinced Vardalos to write a script and to bring the story to life, have her star in the film. Vardalos’ script is not your typical romantic comedy, but one that anyone can enjoy. Yes, there is the romantic element for the ladies, but it is the culture clash that the guys will like.
Vardalos is perfect in her lead role debut as the suffering Toula, who feels conflicted between her traditional family values and wanting to explore her life in a more open manner. What helps is that she is supported by perhaps one of the best supporting casts in a movie of this caliber. John Corbett shows that he and Vardalos have great chemistry as her soon to be husband Ian. Michael Constantine is very funny as the domineering father who thinks Greeks are superior to everyone else and even has some new uses for Windex. Lainie Kazan is funny yet heartwarming to watch as the mother, who while upholding some of the traditions, sees potential in Toula and is the catalyst for Toula beginning to start her life the way she wants to.
The hilarious portion of the film not only comes in a scene where we see Vardalos pull off some physical comedy, but Louis Mandylor’s Nick and Joey Fatone’s Cousin Angelo always messing with Ian due to his non-Greek heritage. Two notable scenes has Nick teaching Ian to speak in Greek, but what Ian says is not exactly what he asks for. Constantine also adds to the mix the constant berating of Ian being a “xeno” (Greek word for “foreigner”) and it brings out some comic relief as well. Look out for Ian Gomez himself in the role of Ian’s friend Mike and he brings some comic relief with some smartaleck comments towards Ian in the film. One can never forget Andrea Martin’s scene stealing Aunt Voula, especially when she tells a story upon meeting Ian’s parents at what was supposed to be a quiet dinner turned chaotic barbecue with the entire Portokalos clan.
Overall, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a very funny comedy that it is safe to say can be enjoyed by everyone. The girls will like the romance and the guys will like the culture clashing in terms of berating and messing with those who are “fish out of water”. The film spawned a seven-episode sequel series of sorts, My Big Fat Greek Life, and a sequel due for release this Friday that reunites most of the original cast.
WFG RATING: A+
Gold Circle Films presents a Play-Tone production in association with Home Box Office. Director: Joel Zwick. Producers: Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman. Writer: Nia Vardalos. Cinematography: Jeff Jur. Editing: Mia Goldman
Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Andrea Martin, Louis Mandylor, Gerry Mendicino, Ian Gomez, Bess Meisler, Stavorula Logothettis, Fiona Reid, Bruce Gray.