There are always those movies that get caught up in a critical or fan frenzy when they come out and become absolutely huge. Some of these movies are big movies to begin with and are elevated even further (The Dark Knight) and some of these incredibly praised films are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum so that when they begin to be praised so greatly they are elevated beyond the little films they are and raised onto a national or international platform. One of these little films that grew big was My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
I loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding when it came out. I thought it was just amazing. My opinion has changed since then; I was pre-film school at the time I saw the film, and while I had a large film vocabulary, I didn’t have a gigantic one like I do now. Rewatching this film I realized not that the film was bad, but that it possibly suffered from being elevated beyond its level. It is well written, it is well acted, the film is even pretty darn entertaining – but worthy of a Oscar nomination for best original screenplay? Probably not. I think this can partially be evidenced by the fact that a film lauded as much as this was when it was released no longer a part of pop culture, it is not referenced on any of the AFI lists, never on top 10’s, etc. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is good, but it was not capable of reaching beyond the small movie that it really was into the film cannon. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in people’s collections, or that it won’t be watched frequently by those that enjoy it – hey, it’s part of my DVD collection.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is in reality a very small, simple story. Toula is a child of parents who immigrated from Greece; pushing 30 she still lives at home and works for her parents because that is what’s expected – the only thing she hasn’t done as expected is get married. She finally gets so fed up at being unhappy all the time that she decides to change her life for the better and begins a journey of self discovery which leads her to meeting Ian Miller a non-Greek school teacher. Knowing that his non-Greek heritage will be as horrible to her family as telling them someone died she hides her relationship until it gets serious and eventually they become engaged which leads to the real comedy of the situation – the merging of the two cultures and families.
Nia Vardalos is pretty much 100% responsible for this adorable film. She wrote and acted in the play on which it is based, and wrote and is the main character in the film. With the help of Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks the film took off. What is great about this film is that it portrays a main character, the romantic heroine of the piece who is not your typical twiggy, perfect, proper girl. She is as close to a normal girl that film can get; that is really refreshing to see and it makes her character very relatable.
I know that I am partly to blame for my opinion on My Big Fat Greek Wedding changing some. My tolerance for romantic movies has gone down a great deal since I got out of high school, that trend started in me even before I hit film school.
Director: Joel Zwick
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Toula: Nia Vardalos
Ian: John Corbett
Gus: Michael Constantine
Maria: Lainie Kazan
Yiayia: Bess Meisler
Aunt Voula: Andrea Martin
Nick: Louis Mandylor
Angelo Joey Fatone
Mike: Ian Gomez
Toula Portokalos: Nice Greek girls who don't find a husband, work in the family restaurant. So here I am, day after day, year after year, thirty and way past my expiration date.