My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
2016, PG-13, 94 min. Directed by Kirk Jones. Starring Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Elena Kampouris, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor, Alex Wolff.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., March 25, 2016
This pointless sequel to 2002’s blockbuster indie comedy dutifully recycles with desperate comic purpose the original’s Windex gags, etymological jokes, and obsession with everything Greek: You laughed at this once before, why not again? Fast forward almost a decade-and-a-half after My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and the boisterous Portokalos clan hasn’t changed one iota. Five minutes in their company and you’ll need a shot or two of ouzo to cope with the exhausting cultural stereotypes on constant display. It’s not a matter of political correctness, but one of sanity. This time around (despite the lazy title) the blushing bride is not the loyal Toula (Vardalos), who blossomed in the first film, but rather her bossy mother, Maria (Kazan). My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 bases its second trip down the aisle on the hoary premise that Maria and her equally insufferable husband, Gus (Constantine), were never officially married 50 years ago back in the homeland. The clerical oversight intensifies the onscreen commotion to an almost unbearable level as family members deal with the crisis as if it were an international incident on par with the collapse of the Greek economy. The accents get hammier, the gestures grow broader, and the schmaltz turns sickly sweet, like an overdose of baklava.
While the original equally tested your patience (are Greek-Americans really this self-absorbed?), the evolution of Toula’s character from mousy wallflower to self-assured young woman there provided a narrative focus that distracted from the chaos of her hot-mess relatives. The film employed a few cornball tricks to mark her physical transformation, but Toula’s personal journey gave the movie a heart that’s sorely missing from this second chapter. Admittedly, the original had its unruly moments, but there’s little to no discipline here. The storyline goes in six different directions, and the actors are unleashed in an apparent free-for-all as they vie for center stage at the Parthenon. In reprising the role of know-it-all busybody Aunt Voula, Martin performs as if she were headlining a 90-minute episode of SCTV. (Even her indomitable station owner Edith Prickley showed some restraint now and then.) At some point, you want to scream at the screen: Enough already! In attempting to capture the magic (a debatable term, at best) of the first film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 loses its perspective about being a movie celebrating the familial ties that bind, even those that choke you. It turns into something else: a cash register in the guise of a sequel bearing gifts.