Kernel Rating (out of 5):
MPAA Rating: PG-13 Length: 94 minutes
Age Appropriate For: 13+. This sequel to the 2002 romantic comedy has some language, some drinking, a lot of parental pressure and overbearing relatives, and a variety of sexual content, including kissing, discussion of passion waning from a marriage, jokes about marriage and pregnancy, and a subplot about an older relative’s sex life.
14 years after the insanely inescapable success of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ comes its sequel, which beat for beat mimics practically all the jokes and drama of the original. This time around, the charm is gone.
By Roxana Hadadi
Has “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” aged well? It’s been more than a decade since that romantic comedy made history with its unbelievable box-office take, its jokes about Windex, and its feel-good story about two nice people falling in love. But the frustrating blandness of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” will make you question practically everything about its predecessor, especially since most of what doesn’t work about this film is directly copied from the original.
In that film, Toula (Nia Vardalos, of “Larry Crowne”) was frustrated with her overbearing Greek family and felt like she couldn’t escape from their constant nagging her about getting married – to a Greek man, of course – and having children as soon as possible. The family was so strict that she had to ask for her father’s permission to take a college course, and when Toula’s parents finally accept her would-be husband, Ian (John Corbett, of “Ramona and Beezus”), into the family, they buy Toula and Ian a house – right next door.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” ended with Toula appreciating her family’s love and support but still wanting to live her own life, so from the get-go it’s a let-down that “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” has Toula transformed into her parents.
She and Ian have a daughter, 17-year-old Paris (Elena Kampouris, of “The Cobbler”), who is (sound familiar?) frustrated with how overbearing her relatives are and how nosy her mother in particular is. Toula is shocked when Paris expresses interest in NYU instead of Northwestern, but how can she be surprised? When Paris’s grandfather drops her off at school, he encourages her to meet a Greek boy so she can “have Greek babies.” Who wouldn’t want to escape that pressure? Years ago, that was exactly Toula’s predicament!
So Toula has problems with her daughter, and it’s clear that her relationship with Ian has also fallen into familiarity – perhaps even boredom. And to add even more drama, her parents Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan, of “Pixels”) learn that their marriage isn’t legally valid thanks to a clerical error decades ago. Gus just naturally assumes that Maria will agree to marry him again, but she’s not so sure – after years of putting up with him, is this her opportunity to make a clean break and start anew?
It wouldn’t be a romantic comedy without every character in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” having some kind of love-related mishap, so while Ian and Toula try to get their spark back and Gus tries to convince Maria to marry him again, Paris also wonders if her crush will end up taking her to prom, one of Toula’s cousins makes an announcement regarding his sexuality, and Toula’s oversharing aunt continues to provide way too much information about her sex life.
But none of this is very original, even though the film tries its hardest to make everyone nice and likeable, and all of the Greek-culture jokes are retreads of the first film. They’re pushy, they’re bossy, they’re talkative, they shove food on people, they meddle into other people’s business – we get it. Along with clichéd jokes about the elderly (do they know how to use a computer?) and a few different makeover sequences, the “humor” is too forced to work.
It would be interesting if “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” even remotely considered real conflict, real character growth, or even new jokes, but that’s not what it does. Instead of watching this sequel, you would be better off rewatching the original. Maybe the story will feel fresh if you pretend it’s 14 years ago.
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