By Steve Herte
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Universal, 2016) – Director: Kirk Jones. Writer: Nia Vardalos. Stars: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Elena Kampouris, Alex Wolff, Louis Mandylor, Bess Meisler, Bruce Gray, Fiona Reid, Ian Gomez, Mark Margolis, & Jayne Eastwood. Color, Rated PG-13, 94 minutes.
As the saying goes, “the exception proves the rule.” In this case, the rule is that sequels are never as good as the original movie. There is a glaring example of an exception here.
Toula Portokalos-Miller (Vardalos), the bride in the first movie, and her husband Ian Miller (Corbett) are in a pair of new situations. Their daughter Paris (Kampouris) is graduating high school and is threatening to attend college as far away as she can get from the clinging Portokalos family, who, by the way are not only closely related, they live within three houses of one another. Paris feels smothered by relatives trying to find her a Greek boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Kostas “Gus” Portokalos (Constantine), Toula’s dad, has had enough of the jibes from friends that he’s not a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. After several agonizing sessions with various tech-savvy relatives, he learns how to research online and in the process finds his marriage certificate. To his ultimate horror, he discovers the blank line at the bottom where the priest should have signed, making the document binding. The family is shocked but not his wife Maria (Kazan). She takes the news of not being officially married lightly and demands that, if Gus wants to be married, he should propose. (His first attempt was merely a requirement that she accompany him to America.)
Gus refuses, but when an argument lands him on a gurney heading toward a hospital, he proposes properly. Maria and her female relatives hire a wedding planner and so horrify her with their outlandish choices of cake, dresses, venue and band that the wedding planner fires Maria. In a way, this is a good thing. The family dry cleaning business is no longer and only the restaurant, “The Dancing Zorbas,” still exists, making an extravagant wedding unaffordable.
Already too involved with “fixing” things to the point of disrupting her own marriage, Toula gathers the whole family, including Ian’s parents Rodney Miller (Gray) and Harriet (Reid) and, organized by Maria’s sister, Aunt Voula (Martin), they assume the various responsibilities to plan the wedding. Gus’ brother Panos (Margolis) is even flown in from Greece.
Meanwhile, it’s prom time for Paris and she sees the jockeying around among the male students for prom dates. She takes the opportunity to ask the seemingly shy Bennett (Wolff) and he accepts. Ian and Toula are ecstatic.
The developments of the two plots are what give this movie the most hilarious elements. The cake has a virtual rainbow of colors, Cousin Angelo’s (Fatone) partner Patrick is also his romantic partner, the limousines are replaced by police cars and the wedding almost doesn’t happen because Gus drinks too much ouzo.
Maybe it’s because the majority of actors are actually Greek in this film that the characters are so completely believable and funny. Even John Stamos has a small role as George. My favorite was grandmother Mana-Yiayia (Meisler), who says more with gestures than words – very funny.
Even the soundtrack conforms with the comedy of this delightful movie. At one point we hear the song “White Wedding” by Billy Idol sung in Greek. Though not particularly a film for children, this sequel is perfectly clean and inoffensive. I enjoyed it immensely. Lainie Kazan was wonderful and Andrea Martin was superb (as she was in the first movie).
Rating: 4 out of 5 Martini glasses.