Ah, family. Only a father could cheer his daughter up with "You better get married soon . . . you're starting to look so OLD ."
John Corbett and Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Written by and starring Nia
Vardalos, this is clearly the product of someone writing what she knows. Based on the one-woman show Vardalos performed in Chicago (which Rita
Wilson, also Greek-American, saw and convinced husband Tom Hanks to produce), this is a love/hate piece about the joys and extreme challenges of having found love outside the confines of her
loud, overbearing Greek-American extended family.
Toula (Vardalos) works at her family's Greek restaurant in Chicago, but is dissatisfied with her dead-end life. Unmarried at 30, trapped inside a self-described "frump-girl" (in first grade she was "a swarthy six-year-old with sideburns"), she decides to take adult-school computer classes, and gives herself a real makeover. Contact lenses, a bold new attitude and spiffy wardrobe later, she goes to work in her aunt's travel agency, where Ian (John Corbett), very un-Greek vegetarian, English teacher sees her and soon falls for her.
That she's a little heavy and not drop-dead gorgeous is one of the really nice aspects of the movie. In a very non-Hollywood way, these feel like actual people who awkwardly and tentatively find their way to love. The big problem isn't the relationship. Rather, it's her stunningly xenophobic family, which looks upon anyone non-Greek as another species: interesting perhaps, but never, never marriage material.
This film made me uncomfortable in that we're taught early on not to take huge stereotyping slashes at ethnic groups; but most of this movie is all about big laughs at Greek excess. They all gaily roast a lamb on the front lawn. And as the wedding couple walks down the aisle everyone on the Greek side of the church pretends to spit on the couple (keeps away evil), to the WASPs' predictable horror. And on it goes.
Vardalos obviously knows what she's talking about, though, and the meticulous level of detail to which her Greek broadsides sink reveal an abiding familiarity and love for her food-obsessed, volatile ethnic roots. Still, what seems like cheap and easy humor is also like looking into one woman's embarrassing but very sweet photo album. -- by Jim Shelby
Lasts: 96 min
Premiere in USA: 19.04.2001
Premiere in Poland: 7.02.2002
director: Joel Zwick
scenario: Nia Vardalos
camera: Jeff Jur
music: Xandy Janko
scenography: Gregory P. Keen
distributed by: Monolith
Nia Vardalos - Toula
John Corbett - Ian Miller
Michael Constantine - Gus Potokalos - Toula's father
Laine Kazan - Maria Portokalos - Toula's mother
Loius Mandylor - Nick - Toula's brother
Andrea Martin - Voula - Toula's aunt
Gia Cariides - Nikki - Toula's cousin
Joey Fatone - Angelo - Nikki's husband
Ian Gomez - Mick - Ian's friend
1. Official site of MBFGW
2. Official John Corbett;s site
3. Klub Filmowy - Polish Site