In the current climate, where immigration (and the distinct apprehension towards it) seems to dominate headlines, it’s certainly welcoming to take a trip down memory lane and return to the world of Toula and co., in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, where we celebrate another culture, scrutinising over and ridiculing those adapting to a new world in a way that is affectionate, never spiteful or malicious, embracing their foibles and becoming endeared, and attached to the characters involved.
Having been married for well over a decade, Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her husband Ian (John Corbett) now have another situation to concern themselves over; the future of their introverted teenage daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) as she ponders over her college of choice. Desperate for her to stay in Chicago for the family’s sake, it’s the family, which extends into the likes of grandparents Maria (Lainie Kazan) and Gus (Michael Constantine), who are inadvertently pushing her away with their overbearing, suffocating sense of kinship. The family value trust, and are shaken up by the news that the latter couple, and elders of the Portokalos family, are not legally married – and so another ceremony appears to be on the horizon, as long as Gus shows some devotion to his partner of 50 years.
Though watered down somewhat, vying to appeal to a broader crowd outside of the Greek community, director Kirk Jones and writer Vardalos are sure not to compromise on the authenticity, as a film that will resonate with Greeks who have adapted to Western countries such as the States or the UK – with several ‘I have an aunt just like that’ comments bandied around post-screening by those well-placed to make such remarks. There are few positive appraisals to be heard where the flawed narrative is concerned, however, particularly in the contrived means of implementing another wedding to remain in line with the franchise expectations – despite feeling completely unnatural. The feature suffers from a palpable lack of conflict too, and while the film remains easy to immerse yourself in, a lack of real dissension is to the film’s detriment.
But that’s not really what Vardalos is vying for with this amiable endeavour, which is undemanding and uncynical in its approach, thriving predominantly off its own sense of geniality. It may be without any tension nor suspense, but in a cinematic landscape where such features dominate the listings, every now and again there’s something rather rewarding and satisfying about indulging in a movie that exists solely to put a smile on your face.