on September 28, 2002
I love it when a sleeper of a movie like this one soars to prominence based on word-of-mouth. This little gem deserves every kudo it gets, and then some.
Refreshingly normal-looking Nia Vardalos basically plays herself in a script she wrote from memories of her own Greek-American upbringing. Maybe that is why the movie comes across as so real and so heartwarming. At any rate, Vardalos plays Toula, a 30-year-old spinster (in her traditional father's eyes) who helps run the family's restaurant, the Dancing Zorba. Hidden behind thick glasses, baggy sweaters and too much hair, Toula is miserable. She loves her family, but she wants to find her own niche in the world--without giving Papa a heart attack.
After much high emotion, Toula improves her looks, goes back to school, snags a job in her aunt's travel agency (after all, reasons Papa, it's still family) and meets the man of her dreams (gorgeous John Corbett, "Aidan" from "Sex and the City"). Everything should be happy, no? NO! Ian (the boyfriend) is NOT GREEK, and Papa is beside himself.
This movie is simply a delight, from the opening credits to the very end. It is unpretentious, warm, loving, and happy. And on top of all that, it's truly well-acted and very, very funny. I recommend it highly.
on August 27, 2002
It is a rare gem of a movie when people can poke fun at themselves and yet not mind that everybody else is laughing as well. this movie truley does have something for everybody. if you are Greek, you will love the familiarity of this movie and will find yourself comparing the people in the film to your own family. You will also find yourself laughing at a few areas in the movie and see nothing but bewildered stares from the non-greeks in the theater. If you are not Greek you will simultaneously wish you were and be glad you are not when you see the closeness, love, overbearing nature and complete lack of any privacy poor Tula goes through in this film.
The movie starts with Tula, a 30 year old Greek girl who is looked at as somewhat of a failure by the family because she has not done what she is supposed to do, Marry a Greek man, Have Greek Children, and cook for everybody until the day she dies. but at least (As said by her aunt) she will be there to take care of her parents when they are old. As tula slowly starts to find her own way, thinking about goind to collage, switching jobs from the family resterant, ect.. enter Ian Miller, from a conservative, WASPy family, and somebody unlike everybody else in Tula's life. This movie could have so easily de-generated into the typical Hollywood pap, i.e. become preachy about Tula's right to do what she wants, or done the Three's company plot of "She tells a fib about her life, he finds out, gets angry, they make up at the end" or lastly and most commonly, made out the WASP family to be bigoted and unaccepting characitures who finally come around after basking in the glow emitted by the Greek family. This movie did none of that, instead you follow Tula and Ian as they realize they are falling in love, and then get to sit through the hilarious real life trouble they have dealing with their differences, most especially Tulas relatives dissbelieve that she would date somebody non-Greek. I gurantee you will NOT have a more enjoyable experience at the movies this year whether you are 12 or 92. The main plot is wonderful, but the little side notes, such as Ians mother bringing a bundt Cake to tulas family and nonbody knowing what it is, or Tulas father believing that windex can cure almost anything, add just another layer to this movie until comedy perfection is achieved. If your young daughters are refusing to go point out to them that a member of N'sync is in the cast then you can listen to them discuss whether or not he gained weight on the ride home. The combination of comedy, real looking people, not large headed starved, botoxed former modles and the real sense of affection with which this writer tells the story are too few and far between. There is a reason this movie is making more money each week than the week before even though it was realeased months ago. You will not be dissappointed.
on January 5, 2003
I had to be nagged severely before I had gone and seen it. I saw the title and thought well...."I'm not greek and know nothing about the culture so maybe I won't get it" Thanks to my sister I have neverbenn so happy to be nagged before......it was outright funny!! I've never laughed so much in public before......my eyes watered, my lungs heaved and wheezed between bursts of laughter the entire time. The DVD will definately be in my private collection. It should be in yours too.
on July 14, 2002
What a terrific movie. Very funny, very warm. A superb ensemble cast, a great script, and excellent pacing make this a real winner.
The mix of cultures is very well done--not, as some reviewers have said, tritely at all. John Corbett's ultra WASPy Ian Miller is a perfect foil for Nia Vardalos' ultra Greek Toula who, at the age of six, was the only girl in her school who was swarthy with sideburns. She's smart, attractive, and most of all full of innocent charm which is a huge plus in these days of Hollywood bombast.
The culture mix is upped several notches when Ian's SUPER-ultra WASPy conservative, reigned-in parents come to Toula's house for a "quiet dinner" which turns out to be an uproar attended by no less than about 25 people--Toula's family, of course, invited by her parents. It's great to see the uptight Millers consume mass quantities of ouzo, encouraged by their host's entreaties, and the resulting discombobulation.
Innocence, in fact, is everywhere in this film and gives it the tremendous charm and warmth it has. Confusing innocence for triteness is a huge mistake. Here, both leads radiate the innocence of pure romance which is very moving, and the romance is beautifully balanced with a lot of very funny moments.
Toula's father, played by Michael Constantine (a Greek), is constantly lecturing his family on how Greek is the language of origin of ALL words--even kimono--and applying Windex to EVERY pain or hurt a human being can experience. He can be a grump, but it's obvious he has real heart. His mother comes directly from Greece to stay with the family and is the source of some truly inspired hilarity.
Does the couple meet cute? Depends on how you define that. The real answer is, No, they don't; they meet normally, like two people might realistically meet.
Toula's mother is played by Lainie Kazan, a veteran (like Constantine) who portrays the correct balance of smartmouth and sentiment in her character. Also notable is Anrea Martin, a Second City TV alumna, as Toula's aunt.
Nia Vardalos, Toula, also wrote the film and did a great job as both lead actress and writer.
on December 27, 2002
...Yes, the Greek characters are exaggerated versions of a real Greek family, but that's what makes it a comedy! The movie is made by a Greek-Canadian, and the Greek community is completely fine with the movie, and they love it, so don't act like you're taking the moral high ground here. Ok, now that's out of the way.....
This film, albeit at times just a sappy love story, is the first film for Greek-Americans (if you're not Greek don't worry, you will still love the film for the endearing characters and comedy). My mother and father who immigrated to the US from Greece years ago, saw the film, and told me what they thought. My mother said "It was very funny. But I don't understand the windex, Greeks don't do that" and I replied "Mom, a lot of the humor was for Greek-Americans" which brings me to the description of my Greek family. My father AND mother, and I'm not making this up, think that Rubbing Alcohol is the end all be all cure to all ailments. (Ok not windex, but what's up with that?) Greek children after growing up and getting married, customarily live in homes close to their parents, sometimes as neighbors (not always, but case in point, my sister and her family lives down the street from my parents). My father espouses the proud Greek history of philosophy and of Greek language, making the same claims as the Greek father in the film made, claims such as most of the English language is derivative of Greek. My father owns a hotel called the "Olympic Inn". I grew up in a community of blond haired, blue eyed kids making fun of the Greek food my mother packed me for lunch when I went to grammar school. I also went to "Greek school" (which despite what one Amazon reviewer who gave this movie a negative rating thought, Greek school is not some kind of ethnocentric indoctrination, it is merely a school usually held at the Greek church to teach Greek-American kids how to speak Greek).
This film truly was very identifiable with Greek-Americans such as myself, where growing up in America meant a clash of cultures but at the same time, a love for the Greek history and the American heritage of democracy and philosophy borrowed from ancient Greece and fine-tuned. Despite the drawbacks to an overbearing family, I can't help but feel the strengh I can draw from it, which this film captures. Greek-American means, proud to be Greek, and proud to be American. Both countries have had a rich culture and proud history, as one touching part of this film demonstrates, where grandmother and mother share memories of their past living in Greece, the years of war, the after effects of Turkish, then later, Italian, then German, then Commmunist aggression. The Greek spirit through all of it's war-torn history, was not broken. And the same goes for the American spirit, always in threat from foreign aggression, but never faltering in the face of danger. This is the Greek-American heritage, and this is why I love this film so much, this is the first and ony film so far to acknowledge the Greek-American presence in American culture. Thank you Nia Vardelos for a touching and endearing film and getting this to the silver screen. And to those of you who loved the film and are not Greek, thank you for experiencing something I and many millions of Greek-American kids experienced. You saw my childhood, you saw my family, and you saw the Greek spirit. I hope you can find something to identify with in this film with your family. If you haven't seen the film, see it, and buy the DVD.
on February 11, 2003
I have to say how much I loved this film. Not only as an enthusiastic moviegoer but also as a Greek American. It is easy to see how people of all cultures relate to this family-oriented film. Additionally, every Greek that I know, including my father who ws born and raised in Greece, loves this film. There is no greater advertisement for the richness and beauty of the Greek culture. If you are one of the few people who did not see this film, I highly recommend it as a funny feel-good movie.
This movie takes every stereotypical assumption you ever had about Greek people, and multiplies it for this laugh out loud satire. Toula has been ruled by her dominating family her whole life, but when she starts seeing, and later gets engaged to Ian Miller, both are determined not to let anyone interfere. What a great romantic comedy, but since there is also a fair amount of drama, I may have classified it incorrectly. Both the acting and script were very well done.
I've read the reviews for this movie on Amazon, and boy am I glad I saw the movie first and that I make up my own mind. This movie was fun, moving & romantic. I'm not going to pop out the thesaurus and fill this review with over-large wording, just give this movie a try and I know you'll love it. After all, how can ALL the people who went to the theaters be wrong?!?
on February 16, 2003
I had no desire to see this film. I didn't bother to see it when it made its remarkable run in theaters, and I ignored all the hoopla. Then my wife brought this little jewel home from the video store the other night, and I reluctantly pulled up a chair and watched the movie.
Darn glad I did.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING is cultural stereotyping run amuck, but pulls it off because the film never takes itself too seriously. Michael Constantine as family patriarch Gus Portokalos (the "Windex Man") is delightfully over the top. Name a word--any word--and he'll prove it's derived from the Greek language. The sprawling Portokalos clan takes center stage here; imagine your most boisterous family union, multiply it by ten, and you'll match the energy of this family's get-togethers.
The film centers around the romance and subsequent engagement of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), deemed an "old maid" by her family, and yuppie Ian Miller (John Corbett), who is kind and likeable, but--gasp!--not Greek. Toula does her best to insulate her fiance from the rowdiness of her huge family, but for Ian it's baptism by fire from the start. The "cultural indoctrination" is intense. It's also downright funny.
What pleased me even more was the love story here. The relationship between Toula and Ian transcended the cultural differences; at no time did either of them think about calling off the wedding. I was afraid the plot would move to that contrived, overdone dimension, but was pleasantly wrong.
Anyone who comes from a big family, or wishes they had, will adore MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. An enthusiastic five stars!
on January 18, 2003
This movie snuck in under the radar, and now its success is working against it. Suddenly it's under attack for being formulaic, for being a sitcom, for offering nothing new.
Guilty, guilty and guilty.
But that's exactly why people took to it to begin with. Sure, the story is simple. No, there's no doubt that the boy and girl will live happily ever after (it's called "My Big Fat Greek WEDDING" after all, not "My Big Fat Greek Courtship.") Is it a sitcom? Yes, in the sense that it's a Situation Comedy. The comedy comes from situations (and characters), not from plot.
What really makes the movie work is the performances. The characters are all people you're happy to spend time with, and you want things to work out for them. This goes not just for Ian and Toula, but for her parents and everyone else. The whole movie is like a wedding, at which you celebrate with old friends, meet some new ones, and leave feeling a little giddy.
Anyone whose family is a little crazy - and that's everyone - will find something to relate to in this movie. Don't look for anything deep, just sit back and enjoy the ride.