My Big Fat Greek Wedding Review
By Shawn McKenzie 08/27/2002
There is something that my friend and fellow Denver area film critic Reggie McDaniel always says about the movie-going experience: you always bring your baggage with you to the movies. What that means is you bring your life experiences with you to a movie, and when that movie reflects something in your own life, you can either really love it or hate it, but you identify with it. For example, Reggie isn’t too crazy about war movies, because he was in several wars himself when he was in the military. For me, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was something I could identify with, because I lived the same story in a small way.
Since the movie dealt with the subject matter in a very humorous way, I really enjoyed the film. The story is about Fortula (or just Toula for short) Portokalos (Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the screenplay based on her one-woman stage show of the same name), a woman with a large, fiercely proud Greek family. Her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), thinks every word in the English language has a Greek root, and that Windex can cure any ailment. He really wants his Toula to marry a nice Greek boy. She wants to just be happy, but she isn’t at the moment, because the only thing going in her life is working at her father’s Greek restaurant. One day, with the conspired help of her mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan), and her aunt, Voula (Andrea Martin), they convince Gus to let her go to college and then work in Voula’s travel agency. While working in the agency, she meets Ian Miller (John Corbett), a handsome, charming teacher whom, unfortunately, is not Greek. She starts dating him anyway, and they fall in love. Ian asks her to marry him, and of course, she says yes. This is a source of great stress for Gus, because Ian is not Greek. The rest of the movie deals with the meeting of the families and cultures, leading up to the big day.
The reason why I could identify with the movie was that I was dating a woman with a large family. It was the longest relationship I had in my life, and it was wonderful, though it didn’t ultimately lead to marriage (for reasons not important to this review.) Anyway, I could identify with Corbett’s character, because I have a relatively small family, and although her family wasn’t as big as the Portokalos family, it was large. The thing that was very similar was that both my ex’s family and the one in the movie were very close, and they dealt with each other all the time, through good times and bad. My family is close, but I wouldn’t have many, many family members to lean on all in the same place. My family is spread out over the country, where a good portion of hers is in the same city. Her siblings have kids themselves, whereas my one brother is a confirmed bachelor (and I don’t have any kids myself yet.) Now, the Portokalos family is much larger, but the closeness is the same. When I would go to functions at her family’s house, I was not used to there being so many people in the same place. Functions at my family’s house are much smaller.
The thing I’ve heard from other critics about this movie is that it is one big sitcom made into a movie. I would agree to an extent, but I don’t necessarily consider that a negative thing. I could easily see My Big Fat Greek Wedding as a weekly TV show. I know I’d watch it.
I would really love to see a version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding from the guy with the small family's point of view. Until that movie comes out, I will enjoy watching this one, and I believe you will too, especially if you bring your baggage of dealing with a large family.
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