I love the original Greek Wedding from 2002. It’s one of my favorite comedies of all time. Why does it work? Because it is focused on one character Toula and her becoming an independent woman and getting married. Along for the ride are her parents and crazy family. The writing is funny and most people with loud obnoxious families can relate to what Toula goes through. I certainly could.
So now all these years later we get a sequel and like most comedy sequels it is a disaster. Whether it be Dumb and Dumber 2, Zoolander 2, Caddyshack 2, most comedy sequels suck.
To begin with it decides to not focus on one person’s story but it splits up the focus on a variety of subplots. We get Toula and her stale marriage, her daughter Paris going to prom, Paris deciding what college to go to, her parents finding out they aren’t actually married, her cousin revealing he is gay, her father wanting to be related to Alexander the Great, her trying to plan her parents wedding etc. The list goes on.
None of these plots are given ample time by the screenplay to grow and be more than a sitcom. It’s like I could practically hear the laugh track in the background behind every situation.
They also take jokes we liked from the first film and run them into the ground. For example, Toula’s Aunt Voula has a great joke in original about a growth on her neck. Here we get 3 jokes about her body including one about having one working ovary. Another example is Toula’s father and his making all words Greek. In the original you get it twice. Here it is repeated over and over again. Same thing with the windex and the awkward sex talk/ sex situations we get at least 3 times. All of these jokes land with a thud.
They even bring back Toula getting taunted by the girls at school over her strange lunch from the first one. I wanted to say ‘let it go!’ Toula had moved on from such nonsense and become a strong woman and it felt petty and kind of judgemental on her part.
As I was watching I got angrier and more irritated. So much so, I almost considered walking out of the theater. It was such a disappointment to these characters I loved in the original.
The other problem is they forget that the crazy family antics were relatively spaced out in the original. A ton of time is spent on Toula, her and Ian’s relationship, their courtship and nice quiet moments between Toula and her brother, mother/family etc. The craziness made you laugh because it felt believable within the context of a wedding or big family event. Weddings are nuts for big families. That’s believable.
Here it is so overdone. For example, Paris has a college career fair at school and the entire family- cousins, aunts, uncles, all come. This becomes annoying instead of funny because it no longer feels like a heightened version of reality. I mean there are a lot of grandkids in that family and if everyone comes to every college fair/minor activity than they must not get much done. It is believable for a wedding or big event, not every day life.
The other disappointment in the film is Nia Vardalos’ acting She’s wooden for much of her line delivery and her and John Corbett seem to have lost the chemistry that made them so great in the original. Her responses are either bland or way over the top. It’s one extreme or the other. There is a scene for instance when she out of nowhere unleashes at her neighbors who are watching the commotion next door. It frankly felt bizarre.
Other elements don’t work like the wedding being stopped because Toula’s father is tipsy at the alter. You just feel sad for Lainie Kazan’s Mother character and I think the movie wants us to laugh. Either way we haven’t spent enough time with her character to be emotionally invested in the situation. It just ends up feeling awkward and uncomfortable.
Another example is they are setting up for a wedding and out of nowhere a man tells the Joey Fatone character something like ‘well, at least he isn’t hiding any more’ and it turns out they are partners. There’s nothing wrong with that storyline in the film but it is literally shoehorned into a cleaning scene and then quickly dispensed of- leaving no laughter or emotion for the audience.
It’s like they thought they had to give everyone in the family (even the Grandma gets a storyline) a subplot so they all leave us under-served and frustrated.
But most importantly they didn’t make me laugh. Family hijinx aren’t in and of themselves funny. It has to be balanced amid people we care about or it is just annoying and that is the case here.
Lainie Kazan does her darndest to squeeze some emotion out of her desire to be proposed to by her husband but again the movie doesn’t focus on her enough leaving me unmoved in the end.
Some people on my facebook liked the film and that’s cool but it really bummed me out. I know technically speaking Norm of the North and The Choice are more poorly made movies but as far as disappointing me My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the worst movie I’ve seen in 2016.
At the very least it begs the question- YOU HAD 1 JOB AND THIS WAS THE BEST YOU COULD DO AFTER 15 YEARS!!!! Darn it all…
Overall Grade- F