One big fat round of applause

Sept. 3, 2002, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 21 years, 2 months ago

The title "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is enough to scare any guy away. It's about a wedding. Things don't get blown up. No one dies. Yet any guy who takes the time to see "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" would be entertained by the endearingly straightforward romantic comedy.

The movie follows charming Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) and Ian Miller (John Corbett) as they quickly fall in love and then face the serious challenge of convincing Toula's Greek parents to accept Ian, who is Caucasian. The romantic leads' easy chemistry makes the whole movie easy to watch, and the cast's interactions are spiced up with amusing ethnic humor. At one point, Toula's aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) is shocked to discover that Ian is a vegetarian. Voula remarks, "He don't eat no meat? It's all right. I'll make lamb."

Another pleasant surprise is Toula's mother Maria (Lainie Kazan), who offers feminine wisdom and moves effortlessly between her attitude as Toula's mother and her confidante. Before convincing Toula's stubborn father Gus (Michael Constantine) to allow Toula to take college courses, Maria tells Toula that though Gus is the head of the family she is the neck. Maria explains, "The neck can turn the head wherever she likes."

Newcomer Joel Zwick's direction is also a treat, as he forgoes any clichéd separation of the lovers before the triumphant climax. The movie is also decently paced, and though it seems sluggish at times it always quickly resumes the narrative The movie also maintains its realism throughout, as neither of the leads appears exceptionally handsome or suffers from any contrived coincidences. Lastly, the director disperses the ethnic humor that defines the movie around other amusing scenes so that it doesn't become tired. The two best of these scenes revolve around Ian.

In one scene, Ian has just met Toula and is trying to amuse her by dancing on the sidewalk. Ian promptly runs into an old lady who knocks him down and beats him with her purse. Later in the movie, Ian becomes nervous as Toula's brother Nick (Louis Mandylor) gives him the standard marriage talk. Nick claims, "I've never seen my sister so happy. If you hurt her I'll kill you and make it look like an accident." Soon after, Nick's cousin Angelo (Joey Fatone) reaffirms this. "Hey Ian, we're gonna kill you."

Perhaps the most delightful member of the Portokalos family is Toula's grandmother, brought by her son Gus to America when Toula was growing up. Throughout "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" the grandmother attempts to escape the house, frequently hitting Gus and sneaking out at night. She doesn't have a large part, but her few appearances are hilarious.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is not perfect though; it is hurt by sloppy editing, with unfocused shots and awkward cuts. Also, Ian's family is underdeveloped, appearing very little until the end. Furthermore, Toula has no friends to consult, and Ian only one- Mike (Ian Gomez)- hard to believe for an otherwise realistic movie. Yet "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" suffers most from a clichéd plot and generic ethnic humor.

Still, even the generic humor is highly amusing, and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is refreshingly simple, funny, and gentle, in an age when most movies try too hard to make grandiose statements. Ultimately, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is highly recommended, and deserves to be the sleeper hit of the summer.

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding," 95 minutes long, rated PG for sensuality and language, playing in theatres everywhere. The official movie site is

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