|The words, “cute,” “nice,” “funny,” and “heartwarming” can all be easily applied to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Its warm sense of humor and the way that every moment of the film is hilarious will make it a treat for fans of the romantic comedy genre. It exists as a very well made example of that type of film and might even be palatable for members of the audience not used to attending films about love and marriage. The wide appeal for this film is evident after the first five minutes, as the problems young “Toula Portokalos,” played by Nia Vardalos, must endure in her childhood aren’t things unique to Greek children.|
As a Grecian American living with a large boisterous family who likes to air its opinions for everyone in the surrounding area to hear, Toula’s life resembles any one of many first generation Americans whose immigrant parents spend their entire lives holding on to their “mother” country. Playing Toula’s father “Gus,” Michael Constantine has what might be the most entertaining role of the film, as his deference to the superiority of the Greek people above all others makes for some of the most hilarious lines in the film.
With his belief that all words in existence can trace their root to Greek beginnings (even the Japanese word “kimono”) to his insistence that Windex cures not only window streaks, but every ailment known to man, physical or otherwise, Gus is a constant source of laughs in the film and a few times brings the audience to tears with his convincing delivery. And that delivery is courtesy of some very well-written dialogue by star and screenwriter, Vardalos, whose one woman show was the inspiration for the screenplay. It’s easy to see that Vardalos followed a very classic structure for her romantic comedy and that her dialogue simply made the film.
There are probably only two small flaws in the movie that keep it from being a perfect experience. And these mistakes are intimately related: freshness and as a consequence, length. Some of the jokes in the film do start to feel repetitive after they are uttered a third or fourth time. Though the comedy itself is laugh-out-loud funny, one cannot help but feel the story touched upon a few of the same elements once too often. And since the movie is a tidy ninety-six minutes long, making some of the jokes more unique might have brought the film to an easier conclusion.
But this blunder far from dooms the picture. The tackling of a rather large cast (this film has many different speaking roles) was a job well accomplished by director Joel Zwick, a veteran television director, and each character gets his or her time in front of the camera with usually hilarious results. Again because of the entertaining dialogue by Vardalos, but also because of Zwick’s ability to make each of his actors an important piece of the film, the movie trots along swimmingly for most of its running time.
John Corbett, playing Toula’s fiancé and the source of consternation for her entire family because of his non-Greek heritage, makes his role an appealing one and has a great deal of romantic chemistry with Vardalos. Certainly, one of the most important elements of a successful romantic comedy is the interaction between the romantic couple in the center of the story and whether that contact is believable. Fortunately, Corbett, like the entire cast, seems made for his role and embodies the part of outsider very well, proving that he has an easy knack for comedy.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a successful romantic comedy simply because it does not try to represent itself as anything more significant. The comedy and romance are both quite innocent and stay far away from low-brow jokes that include things like farts and other bodily functions. And while there is a time and place for even that type of humor, Wedding is a different beast and is still highly enjoyable without that element. The end result is that this film hurdles over its small problems with relative ease and never apologizes for being anything but a light and loving comedy.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.