My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

It’s been 14 years since we were first introduced to the Portokalos family in the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding, when Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) found herself longing for something different while being suffocated by her very Greek family. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is more of the same, but with an extra generation as Nia and Ian (John Corbett) now have a teenage daughter who feels as trapped as Toula once felt, and nephews who have taken up their grandfather’s mantle of proving every word was derived from the Greek language.

The first MBFGW was an Oscar-nominated original screenplay by Vardalos and it was widely popular for the family stereotypes that many moviegoers could relate to. So there’s something oddly comforting in visiting Toula and family again. But it is far from original this time around as little has changed. They remain the most functional dysfunctional family, except this time it’s Toula and Ian’s daughter,Paris (Elena Kampouris), who now has to put up with her grandfather Gus’ (Michael Constantine) constant haranguing to date and marry a Greek boy. But in a prideful quest to prove himself to be a direct descendent of Alexander the Great, Gus discovers he and Maria (Lainie Kazan) aren’t married because their wedding certificate was never signed by the priest who married them.

In the manic chaos that ensues, Toula and Ian must also deal with their defiant daughter who wants to get away from her close-knit but overly involved family. There’s also hint of marital discord when Ian can’t get Toula to find time to go on another date with him because she’s busy fixing everyone else’s problems.

Having come from a big family myself, while my husband can count his immediate family members on one hand, we exchanged a few knowing looks and chuckles during the movie. Unfortunately the only character I found remotely endearing was Mana-Yiayia, Toula’s grandmother, who provides some odd but comic relief. The supporting cast is amusing in the same stereotypical ways they established in the original, especially Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) who continues to overshare. Vardalos is more restrained and appears to only have two expressions, resigned sorrow or inordinate cheerfulness. There is a confused air of “What am I doing here?” behind John Corbett’s signature smirk. We do meet a new Greek couple played by John Stamos and Rita Wilson for no real reason other than to provide Gus with some matchmaking hope for Paris.

It’s interesting counter-programming to Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you feel the need to mentally distance yourself from the puzzling disappointment of BvS: DOJ, then MBFGW2 is about as far away as you can get this weekend until it’s available on DVD or Netflix. Not as disappointing, but at least it’s easier to follow.

3 out of 5