My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Elena Kampouris. Directed by Kirk Jones. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.
After 2002 surprise hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding launched writer-actor Nia Vardalos to stardom, she had a hard time following up her unexpected success. Her subsequent projects as a writer and/or director were poorly reviewed failures, and an attempt to turn Wedding into a sitcom (My Big Fat Greek Life) lasted just seven episodes on CBS in 2003. So after more than a decade of TV guest spots and obscure indie movies, Vardalos has returned to her greatest success for the wholly unnecessary (except to her career) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
But while the original Wedding was developed from Vardalos’ one-woman stage show and her own experiences growing up as the child of Greek immigrants, Wedding 2 is less distinctive, without a clear, concise storyline. Vardalos’ Toula and her entire overbearing, stereotypical Greek-American family return for more cheesy, predictable sitcom-level hijinks, flatly rendered by director Kirk Jones. Now with a teenage daughter of their own, Toula and her husband Ian (John Corbett) struggle to put the spark back in their marriage, while Toula’s parents stage their own big fat Greek wedding after discovering that their marriage certificate was never signed. What once had a certain unique perspective has become just another tired brand extension with no reason to exist other than to exploit its audience’s nostalgia and goodwill.
The original movie was all about Toula breaking away from her family and becoming her own person through her relationship with the non-Greek Ian, but the sequel finds her back where she began, under the thumb of her parents and working a thankless job in the family restaurant. Ian himself has been reduced to a background prop, and the story is full of small-scale conflicts that are easily resolved nearly as quickly as they are introduced. It’s a shrug of a movie, content to recycle the already well-worn jokes from the original. Toula and Ian’s put-upon daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) spends the entire movie desperate to get away from her family’s suffocating shtick, and it’s hard to blame her.