Sunday, April 17, 2016

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2"

 3 / 5 

Watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is like getting a "thinking of you" Hallmark card from a friend you haven't heard from in years: It's an entirely pleasant experience that leaves you wondering about the sincerity of the manufactured greeting, nonplussed at knowing this friend is still around, yet still inexplicably heartened and touched.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is entirely innocuous and sweet, so sweet that by the final reel you realize just how much it believes in its vision of a family that cares this much about each other.  The sentiment may be overbearing, but it is sincere, and can you really fault a movie too much for having too big a heart?

Writer-director Nia Vardalos doesn't seem to mind that she's replaying the highlights from the first film, and after a while, we don't mind so much, either, and even the schtickiest of the schtick, like Andrea Martin's overbearing aunt or the tongue-clucking neighbors seem worth getting through because the rest of the performances -- as over-the-top as they are -- are so darned endearing.

The story this time plays out like a particularly geriatric special Greek-themed episode of The Love Boat, with the elderly parents of Vardalos' Toula (whose wedding was the focus of the first movie) discovering that their marriage license was never signed -- an oversight they interpret to mean they are not actually married.

Legalities aside, Toula's father Gus (Michael Constantine, in an effortlessly charming role) is disturbed by the news while mother Maria (a weirdly plastic but still funny Lainie Kazan) thinks the whole thing is a hoot.  "I'm a hippie," she shouts.  But when Gus refuses to offer her another proposal in a way she thinks is proper and fitting, she retorts that maybe she won't marry him after all.

So My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 becomes like Bridesmaids light (very light) as the whole family tries to push the two back together, then makes preparations for the wedding.

Despite its Greek-ness, everything about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is wholesomely white-bread, so much so that it's easy to see how the first movie became a short-lived TV sitcom.  The laugh track is missing here, but the movie knows how to earn its laughs solidly enough that it doesn't suffer for the oversight.  It's light comedy, but that doesn't mean it's bad comedy, and by and large the humor of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is genuine.

Of course, the entire Portakolos family is back, and they travel as a pack, never missing an opportunity to meet up, bicker and banter.  It doesn't feel real, but then, if superheroes can move in unison, why not large Greek families?

The newest addition this time is daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), who's 18 years old and struggling to realize her own identity amid her overbearing family.  Her story is as sweet and innocuous as the rest of the movie, but the character never really takes hold -- not a surprise given the broad, ethnic farce that surrounds her story.

Still, small (and effective) revelations abound, like Paris discovering that she's not as embarrassed by her family as she thinks, that cousin Angelo (Joey Fatone) has something he needs to share with the family, that Maria's 50-year-marriage might have been bolder and more courageous than anyone has ever realized.

It's the little touches like these that make My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 as sentimentally sweet, and sweetly sentimental, as it is.  It offers no new insight, doesn't even tread any new ground, but all of the ingredients that made the first Greek Wedding an unexpected hit in 2002 are included here, and they combine again to make a dish that's both as tasty (and only occasionally bland) as the first.

Viewed April 17, 2016 -- ArcLight Sherman Oaks


No comments:

Post a Comment