My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Italians have done it. The Jews do it all the time. The Asians did it in East Is East and Bend It Like Beckham. Now it's the turn of Greek-Americans. Ethnic communities want to keep the old traditions, which include not marrying outside their religion. This is tough on the younger generation.

There is nothing new here. Toula (Nia Vardalos) is 30 and single. In the Portokalos family, where she has 27 first cousins, making babies is what daughters are bred to do. Her younger sister has three exhausting boys and a husband who says, "If they're not nagging someone, they die." He's talking about the Portokalos women.

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Gus (Michael Constantine) likes to tell of how he came to Chicago with $7 in his pocket. He is Toula's dad. In Greece, fathers know best. Maria (Lainie Kazan), Toula's mom, puts it another way: "The man is the head, but the woman is the neck, which can make the head turn anyway it likes."

Toula calls herself a seating hostess (waitress) in Dancing Zorbas, the family restaurant, until she stops looking dowdy, has a makeover and inveigles a way round her father to work in her aunt's travel agency, where she meets a passing teacher, called Ian (John Corbett), who is tall, dishy and - my God! - interested in her.

The story is Toula and Ian's romance and his initiation into the Portokalos family. There isn't much more to it than that. Gus is the butt of most jokes, which he doesn't mind, because he doesn't notice, being too busy explaining that every word in the English language has its derivation in ancient Greece. The women run things and the men make a noise. There is much hugging and dancing and eating. When Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) is told that Ian is a vegetarian, she says, "That's OK, I'll cook lamb." It's the way she says it. Toula has a big heart and Ian is the nicest guy in the world. He comes from a classic WASP background, where everyone is a lawyer. His parents are so dull and dusty, you wonder whether he was a foundling. Gus calls them "a toast family", owing to their dryness. Vardalos has a delicate charm and an unaffected style of acting. Her script is suitably feel-good, without being gushy. Corbett is as easy as Sunday morning. If he goes on playing this role, he'll be a star. Perhaps, he is already. Mr Nice Guy meets Miss Ugly Duckling - or whatever that is in Greek.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2002
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My Big Fat Greek Wedding packshot
A 30-year-old greek woman marries outside her religion.
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Director: Joel Zwick

Writer: Nia Vardalos

Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone

Year: 2002

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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