My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Directed by Joel Zwick
Written by Nia Vardalos
Starring Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan


My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Can you say aimiable? It is. Can you say sitcom acting? This film has the very worst. With one exception - writer-lead actress Nia Vardalos - who built this film on her one-woman show about her life as a 30-ish single Greek in Chicago, in love with a barbarian (that is, a WASP), "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is almost fatally flawed by a cast that delivers each line like it's auditioning for a revival of "All in the Family."

Vardalos is Toula Portokalos, unmarried long beyond the age any proper child of a rigid Greek family should be. She is a waitress in her family's Greek restaurant, the Dancing Zorbas. Her father Gus (Michael Constantine, overacting shamelessly with a burlesque Greek accent) is a character in his own right, with big quotation marks around "Character," as he alternates between possessive patriarchy and bizarre eccentricity (he walks around with a bottle of Windex, spraying anyone who feels a little peckish). Her mother, the over-the-top Lainie Kazan playing with a heated mittel-europ generic accent, is Constantine's match in every way. You want to hide your eyes and close your ears whenever they are onscreen.

Only Vardalos, with the sensibility of what plays and what doesn't, acts like a human being. She is not at all conventionally pretty, though when she takes those glasses off - but she knows how to play a real person on camera. We actually care about her, admire her wit - she does the offscreen narration for the film - and identify with her frustrations and her own strong will.

After a too-long setup, Toula meets Mr. Right, Ian Miller (John Corbett), a high school teacher who seems in the film to have no life other than to follow Toula and be smitten with her. Well, okay, if you think that kind of marriage will last. At any rate, she lets him in on her family life ("I have 27 first cousins," she tells him, and introduces them: "Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick, Nicky, and Gus…."), while he has only two very straitlaced parents, and no friends either, apparently. She puts him through more tests than anyone since Amelie, including converting him to Greek Orthodoxy, and then they are married. End of film.

This is a film that I hated and squirmed through for the first hour and a half. And then, at the wedding, I cried. Go figure.