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I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 last night at a screening last night and was apprehensive about going but so glad I went! It was a great silly date/family movie that I really think out-did the original and was a great reminder that sequels can revive the energy and feeling of the first film without relying on the same jokes, and storyline. It had plenty of great call-backs to the original and any fan of that film or anyone with, or who knows, a loud big family will be smiling ear to ear and can plan on laughing away. The film was more or less what you would expect with almost all of the original characters making reprisals and the time didn't degenerate their characters or the absurdity of their actions but like a fine wine they matured with time. I laughed out loud many times and the theater actually erupted in applause when it ended, which is very rare with silly comedies like this, and my only disappointment was that it finished almost too soon. I wanted to spend more time with the characters, but it didn't drag on, wasn't unnecessarily absurd and kept the tone and fun that the original film had. If you are looking for a feel-good film and a nice escape from our hectic wild world this movie will definitely please.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is probably the best sequel that could've
been spawned from a largely forgotten but monstrously successful
independent romantic comedy from twelve years ago. One could
theoretically call it a "too little too late" sequel, something
Hollywood has been good at churning out recently with sequels to
"Barbershop," "Joe Dirt," and "Zoolander," but when a sequel is so
similar in line with its predecessor after so many years and
practically oozes the same kind of sentiment, one has to be a bit
forgiving and credit it for what most sequels fail to capture.
Both sequels to "Joe Dirt" and "Zoolander" were flawed from the very concepts, and when it came time to try that concept again, over a decade later, it felt stale and desperately forced when it came to trying to modernize it for the times and the now-grown up audience. While "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" has obligatory scenes of poor Toula (Nia Vardalos) trying to teach her loving father Gus (Michael Constantine) how to work a computer, it nonetheless manages to effectively work as charming comedy of moments, even if its structure and narrative theme is about as basic as it can get.
The film reenters the lives of the characters we fondly recall from the first film, only now, well into their married lives and elder years. Toula and Ian (John Corbett) are having the typical kinds of struggles most semi-long/long-term married couples have emotionally and romantically, especially with their teenage daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) in the midst of deciding where to go to college. While she wants to go off to New York University, her parents want her to stay in Chicago and go to Northwestern University, but Paris has been constantly smothered by her borderline insufferable Greek family to the point where she wants none of it.
Meanwhile, Toula's parents Gus and Maria (Lainie Kazan) are getting well into their old age, especially Gus, who has had hip and memory problems for a while now. All is going well between him and his wife until Gus uncovers a much-repressed family secret that the priest never signed the certificate of marriage to make Gus and Maria an official union, meaning Gus and Maria aren't legally married, despite fifty years of togetherness. How this was never uncovered before, as if the two never had to file taxes or partake in any other legal activities, I'm not sure, but long story short, they're not married. Rather than doing the logical thing and just going down to the courthouse to make the marriage official, of course the family must complicate it, starting with Maria wanting not only a real proposal from Gus, but a full-blown, bank-breaking wedding. So we're back to square one, this time planning a wedding for the older couple, rather than the younger one.
The scene-stealer this time around, however, isn't so much Vardalos playing a role she can practically sleepwalk, but Aunt Voula, played by the lovely Andrea Martin. Not a hugely significant presence in the first film, it would appear that Vardalos decided to give some of the best quips and zingers to her character's aunt, whose loud presence and boisterous, if invasive, mannerisms often result in some strong belly-laughs. Also giving his all in a performance that he can probably perform at any given time of the day is Michael Constantine; despite his character, the actor can't hide his energy and Jack Lemmon-esque grouchiness when it comes time to really commit to being an enthusiastic presence. He winds up being the most commendable presence here.
The rest of the film is damn-near what you can imagine if you close your eyes and picture potential setups and events for the Portokalos family. Paris is a fascinating character, but unfortunately underwhelming because, fitting for her character and her situation, she keeps getting nudged out of the frame by her louder counterparts. It would've been nice to see a setup solely involving Paris and her decision of grappling with her parents, her heritage, and her decision of where to go to school. Instead, we get a pretty lukewarm plot involving her making impromptu prom plans with another boy (The Naked Brothers Band's Alex Wolff) after he is rejected by the prettiest girl in school. That's about as cliché as Greeks kissing each side of another person's face when they first see one another.
However, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" has some remarkably funny moments. A scene involving Gus stuck in a bathtub isn't played for the kind of bawdy and slapstick gimmicks you'd expect and a scene between all the female Portokalos members at a beauty salon is the epitome of what I wanted from this film all along: good conversation amongst people you can believe are family. Because of their general talent and the fact that they've done this before, the cast's chemistry is fun and the events of the film are lively and concise enough to assure it's never boring and always moving. It's the best sequel you probably could've made twelve years later, and if that's good enough for you, it's certainly good enough for a rainy day at the movies.
sequel (noun) "a literary work, movie, etc., that is complete in
itself but continues the narrative of a preceding work." That's the
definition on dictionary.com. Miriam-Webster.com says that the word's
"Middle English, from Anglo-French sequele, from Latin
sequela, from sequi to follow." Unfortunately for Gus Portokalos, the
root of the word "sequel" cannot be traced to any Greek word, but it
also in no way means "completely original". Actually, it kinda means
the opposite. I generally avoid reading other reviews before I write
mine, but when I saw the low scores that critics on various websites
gave to "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" (PG-13, 1:34), I had to at least
take a peek at some of their comments.
Most criticisms of this movie can be summed up in one word "unoriginal" but is that fair? It's a sequel, people! Think of it like this: If you went to spend time with a friend whom you haven't seen in 14 years, would you be happy if your friend acted completely differently than the last time you were together? What if that friend refused to talk about the history you two shared, instead insisting on discussing all new topics, expecting you to enjoy that conversation as much as you'd enjoy a little reminiscing? Well, this film doesn't make those mistakes and is to be commended for it! For those of us who loved the 2002 original, seeing this movie is a lot like visiting an old friend and it's a visit filled with the perfect combination of fond memories and new experiences that are both fun and sweet.
Correction: Seeing "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is like visiting a LOT of old friends. First up is our host, actress and comedienne Nia Vardalos. She wrote the screenplay for the original, which became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time (!) and earned Vardalos an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Naturally, Hollywood types and ordinary fans alike have been asking her about a sequel ever since, but she cared enough about quality and her own integrity that she says she didn't write the sequel until she had a story that she felt was good enough, and she was ready to write it well enough to be worthy of the original. And when Vardalos wrote her new story, she brought back all the main characters from the first film and many of the minor ones and all played by the original actors! Our calendars tell us that the sequel came 14 years after the original, but that's 18 years to a Greek (or, at least, to these Greeks). Toula (Vardalos) still lives next door to her parents, Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan) and she's still married to Ian Miller (John Corbett), with whom she is raising their daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Paris is a 17-year-old high school senior who, like her mother before her, works part-time at the family-owned Greek restaurant, feels smothered by her loud, proud, loving but meddling Greek family, and wants that proverbial "something more" out of her life. Paris' plan is to go to college as far away from her Chicago home as the continental U.S. can carry her. Toula is struggling to deal with her only child leaving and with keeping the passion in her and Ian's busy lives.
And then there's the rest of the family. Just to cite a few examples: Ian's best friend, Mike (Vardalos' real-life husband Ian Gomez), has gotten married and become a police officer. Toula's cousin, Angelo (Joey Fatone) is the last unmarried member of his generation in the family and he's catching some flak for it. Toula's Grandma Yiayia (Bess Meisler who is believed to be in her 90s), who is, of course, also Paris' great-grandmother, is not only alive and kicking, but even funnier and more developed as a character than in the first film. I won't spoil the movie's big surprises by telling you about the changes in all of the characters' lives, but I will say that almost all of their stories are updated and in ways that are alternately fun, surprising and always logical and right for the individual characters. There are also a few new characters, played by familiar faces such as Rob Riggle, John Stamos and Rita Wilson (the producer who brought the idea of the original film to the production company of her husband, Tom Hanks).
But what about the "big fat Greek wedding" (#2) from the movie's title? Well, the "my" no longer refers to Toula, but to her mother! Gus discovers that his and Maria's wedding license was not signed by a licensed priest, meaning that they were never legally married. Maria sees this news as an opportunity to make Gus woo her more romantically than he did the first time and show her how much he really cares. Obviously (given the movie's title), the old man eventually gets with the program and Maria begins planning a big fat you know but when the planning hits a major snag, it starts to look like there will be no Greek wedding after all. This sets the stage for a grand finale which brings together all the film's story lines in ways that are more fun and heartfelt and less predictable than some critics say.
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is everything a sequel should be. The script, directing and strong ensemble acting all remain true to the original characters. Great running gags from the first film continue (although some are overplayed), but also work well standing alone, while many of the new jokes and sight gags are laugh-out-loud funny. Although there's a minor Gus-centered sub-plot that I could've done without, the multiple story lines are fresh and woven together wonderfully. This film isn't perfect, but it's nearly as hilarious and has even more heart than its much-beloved inspiration. "A"
My son and I just came home after seeing "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2." We loved the first movie and laughed but when seeing the sequel, I must warn you, I laughed until I cried and had sore stomach muscles. There were more hilarious scenes this time around than the first time and a multitude of new ones. If I could have given "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" a rating of 11 or 12, I would not hesitate. All of the original cast of characters from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" are in this movie. These characters are the ones whom we fell in love with. Getting to know everyone's quirks and idiosyncrasies in more detail was beyond enjoyable, amusing and refreshing. There are some awesome underlying messages creatively blended with humor that effectively relay messages we all should take heed and learn from. What warmed my heart and tickled my funny bone also made me feel loved and accepted as a member of the Portokalos family, despite what my DNA may show otherwise. On the way to the movie theater, I decided to keep an open mind. I ignored the negative and hateful reviews of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" to form my own opinions. I cannot begin to express how ecstatic I am that we saw this movie. So, my advice to is overlook the spiteful, pessimistic reviews and opinions you read and hear about this movie. Then take a break, bring some face tissues, go to the theater and see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2".
First let me say that I loved the 1st movie. I watch it often (maybe
too often. lol) Anyway, I was looking forward to this sequel. I haven't
been this excited about a movie since the Harry Potter series. I rushed
my husband so we could get to the movies 30 minutes prior to showtime.
I expected a crowd, but when we arrived it was quiet. Evidently not
everyone was anxiously awaiting this film.
I thought the movie started out a little slowly, but it was funny and heartwarming. People in the theater were laughing and clapping and genuinely enjoying it. We enjoyed it too. Did some parts feel forced? Yes. Was it more of the same from the first movie? Yes, but I loved that about it. When the 1st movie ended, I wanted to know more about the characters and their lives. This movie allowed that to happen. I loved that they were able to bring back the old cast. (There is nothing worse than seeing a sequel with different actors.) I loved that the characters were just the same as before, only a little older.
This isn't a film to change your worldview, but it is fun for entertainment. I'm looking forward to being able to buy it blu-ray, so I can watch it again and again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't believe we waited this long to revisit this amazing collection
of characters. When the original came out, they were like a refreshing
storm, giving us a funny but insightful look at another world, yet it
had enough commonalities with most of us. We could all relate to the
dynamics of relatives, loneliness, love, and other themes.
Somehow, the themes are back, with a fresh spin that parallels the original and has the many generations dealing with similar problems. Toula is back and she is still dealing with her parents' proximity and meddling. She is also about to experience her own separation from a daughter that belongs to a new generation and might be overwhelmed by too much affection.
Because of technicalities, Toula's parents are not "legally" married, and things must be fixed. This opens the door for a succession of jokes, one-liners, and some very funny situations. They might not have worked had it not been because the cast, though looking older, remains as charming as ever. They're loud, and we love them just like that.
We get to see Paris learn that she needs her family when it's time to make decisions, and she is also to become part of the bunch when the family members need to help each other. Of course, this wouldn't be a Greek movie, if we still didn't have various traditions come through and clash with the American counterparts. It's not offensive, just like adding a different type of spice to the mix, and of course, there is a new wedding in the picture, and everyone is involved.
One of the freshest turns is Bess Meisier, as the grandma who surprisingly is still around and is funnier than ever, with her gestures, and a new look in the later part of the picture. Enjoy her perfect coming timing.
Overall, MFGW2 is a welcome return of our old friends, so enjoy the celebration, be ready to smile, laugh and have a great time.
You know what you're going to get with this movie - and it delivers.
It's a good sequel. The downsides are that the plot is pretty thin and
unfortunately 50% of the jokes are in the trailer. But it's a feel good
movie and it's fun to see everyone from the original cast, 14 years
later, including Ian Miller's parents. Funniest parts were when Gus's
young grandsons ape him in explaining how the root of every word you
can think of actually comes from the Greek.
Nice cameos from Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks and the reason why the first movie got made), bundt cakes, Toula's big glasses and Windex. Lots of "in" jokes for those of us who loved the first movie and thought it was a refreshing change from typical Hollywood fare. Well done, Nia Vardalos. And by the way, she looks stunning in the red lace mini dress at the end of the movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was both a critical and commercial success,
grossing over $360,000,000 worldwide and earning Nia Vardalos an Oscar
nomination for Best Screenplay. This meant that the sequel, My Big Fat
Greek Wedding 2, had a lot to live up to but unfortunately it just
didn't quite hit the mark.
My main issue with this film was the lack of direction, character development or plot structure. Just like Toula's loud and outrageous family, there was just too much going on. Firstly, there's the newest addition to the family Toula and Ian's daughter Paris (played by the angsty Elena Kampouris). She's already feeling the pressure from her Papou to find herself a nice Greek boy and settle down. Deeply embarrassed by her very Greek family, she also is a senior in high school and looking to go to college, but she's faced with the dilemma of going to Northwestern University (meaning she will stay close to her cringe-worthy relatives), or living out her dream at NYU. I'm sure you can guess which one she'd prefer!
Secondly, there's Toula and Ian's so-called issues out of the blue, Aunt Voula suggests that they go on a date to reignite their marriage (even though there had been no previous signs of tension). They do so, and suddenly Ian resents Toula for not paying him enough attention. I didn't realise that he needed the meddling Aunt Voula to point this out for him, but there you go.
And then to top it all off, there is the abundance of other short-lived, whacky, out-of- the-blue (or all of the above) scenarios that the rest of the characters encounter, including:
- Aunt Voula's constant complaining about all of her physical ailments - Maria and Gus' upcoming nuptials (as they have realised they have never been 'officially' married) - Gus claiming he is a direct descendant of Alexander the Great - The all-American judgemental (and borderline racist) women who are eventually put in their place and are suddenly very accepting of their eccentric, ethnic neighbours - Why Angelo (played by ex-NSYNC member Joey Fatone) has been single for so long (I won't spoil it for you but it rhymes with 'romosexual')
All-in-all, this film was trying to hard to be what the first movie effortlessly pulled off and it resulted in the jokes being forced and predictable and the stereotypes being more overdone than a tough lamb souvlaki. This proves that sometimes, a classic success needs to remain just that and not rehashed for the sake of it in order to try to force history to repeat itself.
I went into this movie with somewhat low expectations. I saw the original many many years ago, but honestly, can't remember much about it. I went on a random Sunday night and it hit the spot. I thought it was very entertaining, funny, and enjoyable. The characters were likable and you were rooting for them. I have a big Italian family, and many of these character reminded me of my own family. Yes, they are loud and nosy and all up in each others business, but they love hard and have fun. They understand the importance of family and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. I would recommend this movie to all ages and it is family friendly.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Though I didn't have any expectations for the sequel to the movie I
remember fondly of from 14 years ago, the moment I saw many teasers
with birds advertising Windex® for this, I knew we were in trouble.
They looked awful and were just plain dumb teasers. The birds asking if we had tickets for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 made me want to get a refund IF I had purchased any by that point.
And how arrogant is that? Many movies sell out ahead of time so it's good to buy advance tickets. These kinds of movies include any Marvel movie, Star Wars saga or the latest teen angst series. NOT this "film." I don't have the research, but did a single soul even buy an advance ticket for this? Boy, those birds seemed to think it would sell out for months. (Fun Fact: the first movie did end up making $241 million domestically and this one, the one you were urged to get advance tickets to: $59 million.)
The movie, folks, is just as bad as the bird teasers. Painful at times, even. A horrible, disgustingly bad experience and should never be watched especially if you're a fan of the first one.
I never saw the spin-off T.V. show that the first one produced and I really, at the time, loved the first movie. I just thought it was overkill and didn't care to see it. Apparently, I was right since it was all-but immediately cancelled. This movie felt like just a reunion episode of that defunct series and just an excuse to get everyone who is still alive to reunite and prove they're still breathing.
And like said sitcom analogy, the main plot revolves around the clichéd sitcom problem: a 50-year-marriage is actually invalid because someone forgot to sign the marriage certificate. This gives the movie's title to give the go-ahead to show another big not-so fat Greek wedding.
What is with 2016? So many "comedies" that are not in the least funny: Keanu, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Boss and now this zero-laugh sequel that no one at all asked for. Granted, I didn't find those other three movies bad, just almost 95% humorless. This terrible movie produced ZERO laughs. Not a single chuckle even.
In case you wanted to see these same characters still breathing, then you have an excuse to see this. Other than that, this movie should be avoided at all costs.
Final thoughts: That all said above maybe I was too harsh. In truth, I did smile a few times and the movie wasn't incompetently shot or acted. It was nice to see everyone back and the same places as before. But all that nostalgia wore off 15 minutes in and I became more and more depressed and frustrated until the ending.
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