Monday, November 26, 2012


(Dir. Joel Zwick, 2002)

Despite that I worked at a movie theater that showed the film for months, and later a video store when it was a hugely popular rental, I’ve never seen MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, the 2002 hit rom com written by and starring Nia Vardalos.

It just didn’t look like my thing, not that I’m completely anti-rom com, but the story of a Greek woman who has to deal with her large unruly family in order to marry the man of her dreams, didn’t seem to be my kind of comedy.

I probably still wouldn’t be watching it if it wasn’t for the good people at HBO sending me the shiny new 10th Anniversary Edition (released Nov. 13th), which has the film making its first appearance on the Blu ray format.

In voice-over Vardolas tells us that “nice, sweet girls are supposed to do three things in life, marry Greek boys, make Greek Babies, and feed everyone until the day you die.”

After she goes through an ugly duck turns into a swan process involving, of course, getting rid of her thick glasses, frizzing up her hair, and putting on make-up, Vardolas meets the so non-Greek John Corbett, best known for playing Sarah Jessica Parker’s boyfriend Aidan on Sex in the City. They fall in love in a cutesy montage of them groping in Corbett’s car through a series of dates that she keeps secret from her family.

The big fat Greek family finds out about the budding romance, and Vardolas’ father (Michael Constantine) forbids them to see each other. That’s easily resolved, as is every possible conflict that comes along - Corbett converts to the Greek Orthodox faith so they can get married, the family adjusts, yadda yadda yadda. Much humor has been mined in the movies from the process of putting on a wedding (see Robert Altman’s A WEDDING - seriously go see it), but there’s little that’s funny here.

Each scene is all set-up, sprinkled with corny one-liners, like subpar Neil Simon, for a situation that never pays off.

Vardolas has a way with a wisecrack, and a running gag about how her father uses Windex to cure every ailment has its merits, but there’s not enough of a story for it to be interesting, as if Vardolas expected the wacky eccentricities of her various family members to be enough to carry the thin narrative.

Director Zwick is a veteran of tons of brightly lit silly sitcoms (from Mork & Mindy to Two and a Half Men), and it really shows. Decades of those shows can be felt in the obvious camerawork in which he just aims the camera and shoots. But then what am I saying? Nobody goes to see a rom com with any expectation of inventive cinematography!

Vardolas based the innocuous and thoroughly mediocre MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING on her real-life wedding to Ian Gomez who appears in the film as Corbett’s best man, so basically it’s a glorified home movie. 

Vardolas even calls it almost “a documentary about her people” on the commentary. That’s fine, and more power to you if you can get Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson to fund your movie and make you a star, but it doesn’t make the material any more entertaining than just about anybody’s wedding videos. My previous impulse about this movie was correct; it’s so not my thing.

Special Features: A 30 minute featurette, “A Look Back at MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING,” which includes interviews with Vardolas, Corbett, and Hanks (Hanks and wife Rita Wilson produced the film along with Gary Goetzman), the original 2002 commentary by Vardolas, Corbett, and Joel Zwick, and 5 minutes of boring, unfunny deleted scenes.

More later...

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