[MOVIE REVIEW]A ‘Wedding’ with lots of laughs, heart and foodToula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is in trouble ― she’s 30 and unmarried. Not a crime for most people, but pretty close for her traditional Greek family.
In Toula’s words, Greek women have three responsibilities: “Marry Greek boys, make Greek babies and feed everyone until the day we die.”
For people like her father Gus (Michael Constantine), this rule is as obvious as anything by Archimedes. He decorates the home with loud, garish Greek accessories and proudly asserts that every word in English actually comes from Greek.
Strangely, the dowdy Toula seems to have little interest in perpetuating the family stock, content to work quietly at the family’s restaurant.
Then, one day, ambition strikes. Toula wants to take classes at a nearby community college. Soon she starts to bloom, puts on makeup, dresses better and starts trying to fit in for the first time in her life.
You might think this would be a cure for her problems, but no. Toula goes from a serious crime, being unmarried, to a full-out felony ― dating a non-Greek.
Ian Miller (John Corbett) is charming, handsome and kind, and soon starts on the arduous task of trying to win over Toula’s large, conservative family. When he tells one aunt that he’s a vegetarian, she tells him “That’s all right. I’ll make lamb.” It’s an uphill climb.
“Greek Wedding,” from beginning to end, moves ahead in a straightforward, uncomplicated way. It dispenses with most of the artificial crises that litter your typical romantic comedy ― cliches that are so prevalent that “Wedding” seems almost revolutionary without them.
Although the story is basic and the ethnic humor broad, the characters are warm and truthfully portrayed. This is a movie with so much heart that it transcends its apparent simplicity.
By now, most people know the history of the little movie that could. Nia Vardalos’s one-woman play “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was optioned by Tom Hanks’s wife and eventually turned into a low-budget movie. It opened in the United States nearly one year ago, to a modest $500,000, barely in the Top 20.
But while most films open huge, only to quickly disappear, “Wedding” kept chugging on, powered by great word of mouth. Its box office take grew week by week. Six months later, it was in more cinemas than ever, and today it’s still playing a couple hundred screens.
All told, “Wedding” pulled in a staggering $240 million, making it one of the most successful comedies of all time. And, now it’s set to become a television sitcom this fall.
“Greek Wedding” is not a film that’s going to be studied, deconstructed and analyzed in film schools for the next 50 years.
But in this case, that’s a very good thing.
by Mark Russell