My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG for language and sensuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone
Director: Joel Zwick
Screenplay: Nia Vardalos
Review published November 2, 2002
I've never been one who cared much for wedding films, or even for ethnic family comedies for that matter, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding won me over with surprising ease. Going into this film, there are certain aspects that you know are going to be a given, so there aren't any real surprises to speak of. Toula (Nia Vardalos, Men Seeking Women) starts off frumpy and sporting hideous glasses, and you know there's going to be a make-over at some point. You also know that the film is about a wedding, so you also can figure out that she attracts a man, and when you see that there is a studly guy named Ian (John Corbett, Volcano), who is attracted to Toula even before the make-over, you know who that man is instantly. Given the fact that Toula comes from a loud, obnoxious and large Greek family, you know that they aren't going to like her marrying a non-Greek, and you're also going to know that the WASP-ish Ian will have a hard time breaking out of his shell to join the family. Hey, it's a Greek movie, so you know there's a lot of celebrating, dancing and drinking going on.
As much as you know about the movie, there's comfort in the familiarity because we genuinely like all of the characters, and if everything ends up wonderful in the end, so much the better -- we want it to be. It's a feel good film for sure, but done with heart and genuine insight. With characters cast this well and the variety of scenarios being so colorful, you'd never know this was originally based on Nia Vardalos' one woman play. Special thanks go out to producers Rita Wilson and husband Tom Hanks for seeing this story come to life.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding contains a lot to like, from the knowing look into the lives of a Greek family, to the terrific direction by longtime sitcom director Joel Zwick (Fat Albert, Second Sight) for keeping all the personalities together, and a great script by Nia Vardalos in adapting her own play. Beyond this, the film is very well cast, and even if the characters are a bit eccentric, they show enough dimension to avoid being too cartoonish to be believable.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a good family-oriented romp that is a breath of fresh air during a feeble year for films, most of which are polluted with ridiculous amounts of violence and gratuitous sexual content. Hopefully the success of this film will inspire others to tell tales of the heart and make movies with good stories and interesting characterizations again. I'm not sure what your face will look like going in, but you'll probably be coming out with a smile. Easily one of the most enjoyable films of 2002.
©2002 Vince Leo