MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
Toula (Nia Vardalos) is 30, unmarried and is destined to work in the family business at Dancing Zorba’s, the Greek restaurant owned by her parents Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan). But Toula is intent on changing her life and takes a job at her aunt’s (Andrea Martin) travel agency, meets a handsome, tall, high school teacher Ian Miller (John Corbett) and falls in love. But what will upset her parents more – the fact that Ian is not Greek, or that he’s a vegetarian?
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Culture clash romances are always fun – especially for those of us who have a strong culture and the baggage of tradition to give us our very own ‘in’ take on the proceedings. We can laugh at the pain of it all from the outside. In this effervescent and energetic comedy, the plain Jane Greek object of affection is 30 years old – and looking old, as her tradition-bound father keeps telling her – two elements that makes the film an oddity for a Hollywood that’s insecure about both looks and age. However, this is a film that comes to the screen via a one-woman stage show, a more or less autobiographical piece by writer Nia Vardalos. When Tom Hanks’ Greek wife Rita Wilson saw the show in Canada, and sent Tom, too, he promptly (within two months) set his production company in motion to picture this show as a movie. One more thing: they took the plunge and cast Nia as the film’s real life star, as well. The result is an entertaining film which manages to slip through without being fat at all. In fact, it’s a bit thin in thematic terms, relying on one big fat joke (the culture clash) to obliterate the need for much else. Vardalos admits to cranking up the material for all it’s worth, and director Joel Zwick goes along with it. It works if you’re in a receptive mood, even though everyone except the stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, overacts, even Australia’s lovely Gia Carides in a supporting role.
Review by Louise Keller:
Twist open the Ouzo! It’s time to let your hair down – Greek style. A vibrant whirlwind of love, family and all that goes with it, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a non-stop funny feast of warmth, colour and cringe. Canadian born Nia Vardalos has adapted her one-woman theatrical show in which autobiographical elements utilising her ethnic background and family experiences are brought together as fodder for an amusing romantic comedy. Of course the notion of meeting someone who doesn’t fit into the family is far from new, but the film offers a sweetness and a big, lovable heart that not only is endearing, but opens our eyes to an entirely new world. And the world is that of a close, loving Greek family. You know the kind, with an ornate house with columns and Greek statues, and a Greek flag flying proudly in the wind. It’s a fate worse than hell to be doomed to work in the family restaurant for life, but if you are single and there are no nice Greek boys on the horizon to enable you to create a nice big Greek family who eat a lot…. But you don’t have to be Greek to get the gag. The devil is in the detail, they say, and the thrust of our enjoyment comes from it. The detail, that is. Details like the guests spitting at the bride walking down the aisle, which of course is a Greek custom to keep the devil away. While it may all be a little over-the-top with characters that are often larger-than-life, we feel embraced by the vibrant warmth of this large extended family, ebullient with its customs, ethnicity and eccentricity. Vardalos is fabulous as the thirty-something frumpy, bespectacled daughter who loves her family but aches for a life of her own. I would have liked a little more subtlety at times with many characters and situations becoming caricatures but I enjoyed John Corbett’s sweet, eager-to-please Ian, whose wish to be a part of the family is so genuine that we can’t help but go along with him. There are wonderful characterisations by Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan as Toula’s parents and Andrea Martin’s marvellous turn as Aunt Voula, who introduces Ian’s introverted parents to Ouzo and watch out for Australia’s darling Gia Carrides as the buxom, big-haired, feisty cousin. My Big Fat Greek Wedding may be superficial fun, but its big, brash bountiful dose of hilarity is totally contagious.
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NIA VARDALOS interview by Andrew L. Urban
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING (G)
CAST: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Laine Kazan, Michael Constantine, Gia Carides, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone
PRODUCER: Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman
DIRECTOR: Joel Zwick
SCRIPT: Nia Vardalos
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jeffrey Jur
EDITOR: Mia Goldman ACE
MUSIC: Chris Wilson and Alexander Janko
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gregory Keen
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 24, 2002