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"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" Movie Review

Ian (John Corbett) and Toula (Nia Vardalos)
in Joel Zwick’s romantic comedy, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Photo ©2002 IFC Films. All Rights Reserved.

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"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a jubilant mix of laughter, longing, forgiveness, sacrifice, commitment and, above all, balancing family obligations against true love. Throw in a gregarious group of Greeks and you've got the makings of a fun -but fluffy- 1 1/2 hour escapist film.

Based on the one-woman play by Nia Vardalos, the film came to be thanks to another passionate Greek woman and her husband - otherwise known to moviegoers as Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. Wilson saw the play, fell in love with the theme and the feel of the production, and provided the backing to make Vardalos' autobiographical story into a touching little movie.

The story parallels Nia Vardalos' life to a large degree. In the film, Nia becomes 'Toula,' a woman who is shamefully single at the dreadfully old age of 30. At least that's how she's viewed by her overbearing, 100% Greek father (played with gusto by Michael Constantine), and to a lesser degree, the rest of her enormous clan. Determined to make a break from her tiresome life as a waitress in her family's restaurant, Toula goes where no woman from her family has gone before - she enrolls in college and learns computer skills. Voilá, as easy as that she transforms into a lively, lovely woman who catches the eye of the handsome, non-Greek Ian (John Corbett). Ian's pure white bread and mayonnaise. To make matters worse, Ian is -gasp- a vegetarian. Can you imagine that combo being introduced and accepted by the most ardent Greek father alive? Neither can Toula, so she does everything she can to avoid bringing Ian into her home. When the clandestine relationship is discovered, it takes all of Toula's feminine powers, combined with those of her mother (Lainie Kazan), to make the father come around so that Toula can indeed have her big, fat, Greek wedding.

The concept is cute (which can sometimes be the kiss of death), the story is fun, and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is a totally non-controversial romantic comedy. The film exposes the inner workings of a raucous, passionate Greek family in a way that could possibly make non-Greeks jealous of the intense family relationships portrayed by this fine cast. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” won't appeal to everyone - women will enjoy it much more than men - but it's worth a look if you're seeking a little innocent diversion.

Overall Grade: A-

"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is rated PG for sensuality and language.

Director: Joel Zwick
Producers: Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman
Written By: Nia Vardalos
Director of Photography: Jeffrey Jur
Production Designer: Gregory Keen
Film Editor: Mia Goldman
Costume Designer: Michael Clancy
Music By: Chris Wilson and Alexander Janko
Casting: Liberman/Patton, CSA
Set Decorator: Enrico Campana
Art Director: Kei Ng

Toula Portokalos - Nia Vardalos
Gus Portokalos - Michael Constantine
Maria Portokalos - Lainie Kazan
Ian Miller - John Corbett
Nikki - Gia Carides
Aunt Viola - Andrea Martin
Nick Portokalos - Louis Mandylor
Uncle Taki - Gerry Mendicino
Angelo - Joey Fatone
Mike - Ian Gomez

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