Reuniting all of the original cast, the follow-up to the 2002 smash hit romantic comedy again focuses on the travails of the haphazard Portokalos family. Nia Vardalos reprises her role as lead character Toula and also resumes writing duties. Just like the first outing, the script relies heavily on a plethora of Greek clichés and stereotypes to achieve comic effect, although this time around the tone is much sillier and the gags far less effective. The original was far from a masterpiece, but it did have redeeming moments. The sequel however is a resounding mess.
We meet up with Toula and the gang some 18 years after the events of the first film and find our heroine in somewhat of an existential dilemma. Toula and Ian (John Corbett) are still married but their romance is waning, with full time work, parenthood and the demands of her own ageing parents leaving little time for extra marital activities. Relations with college bound daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) are strained and having lost her travel agency job, Toula finds herself working back at the family restaurant for her Windex obsessed, high maintenance dad Gus ( Michael Constantine). Part of the film deals with Toula overcoming these adversities, but we also have a wedding to contend with. Toula’s parents discover that due to a clerical error, their wedding certificate was never signed and subsequently they have been living in sin for 50 years. They have to get married and Toula’s mother Maria (Lainie Kazan) is determined to make it the biggest, fattest, Greekest wedding the family have ever witnessed.
There are very few redeeming features to this film. While the original possessed a certain charm, some neatly observed comedic moments and genuine chemistry between the lead couple, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 fails to convince on any level. Attempts to reignite the on-screen magic between Vardalos and Corbett feel flat and lacklustre. The spark of the first film is pretty much extinguished. Corbett, who is usually reliable, gives a tired performance. This is perhaps understandable given the weak material he has to deal with and his character is basically pushed onto the periphery of the plot. There are some interesting thematic concerns which centre on cultural identity, marriage, family ties and parenthood but it just isn’t handled very well and none of it feels real. While the producers (Tom Hanks included), writer and cast were all involved in the original film, the director Kirk Jones is a new addition but fails to stamp any kind of identity onto the film.
Overall, you’re left wondering why this sequel was green-lit at all. The script is woefully underwritten and no-one comes out of the film with their dignity intact. The myriad of characters, half baked sub-plots and onslaught of hackneyed Greek references become unbearably irritating, whilst the comedy consistently misses the mark. Nia Vardolos claims that the characters and story were inspired by her own family and experiences but she has failed to capture anything genuine, truthful or heartfelt in this woeful effort. All in all, a big fat fail.