Movie Report: My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Book coverI bought this film at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale in April, but the real trigger to watching it comes from having later bought Lanie Kazan’s record. And she plays Nia Vardalos’s mother in the film–third billed after Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, that guy from Northern Exposure who was briefly the It-Guy for (over-)educated hunks at the turn of the century, so of course I picked it up right away. Not because of John Corbett, although I would have felt more like him seven or eight years earlier when I was the over-educated one with the mullet.

I did not see this film in the theatre, but I saw this film with…. Originally, I thought it might be before my beautiful wife, but the timing is not right. Unlike Get Shorty, this film clearly came out (and by clearly, I mean by checking its date) after we were together married. Apparently, she had seen it with the ladies at work (back in the day when we went to work and not to our separate home offices–oh, so long ago), and she then wanted to watch it with me. And we did.

So this was Nia Vardalos’s big shot. She wrote it, and she stars as Toula, an ugly duckling daughter of a Greek restaurant owner in Chicago who wants more than to be the dutiful daughter all her life. So she–with the help of her mother, played by Lanie Kazan as I mentioned, gets her father to allow her (Toula) to attend college to learn computers. She does and gets some work with a cousin’s travel agency. Along the way, she meets Ian (John Corbett), an English professor who is the only child of WASPy white-bread parents. They fall in love, and the cultures clash as she has a big, boisterous family compared with his mother and father as sole representatives of his family.

The humor comes from that culture clash as they prepare to wed with their (mostly hers) family’s help. She pokes fun at Greek heritage, and Ian’s parents, well, they’re stereotypes (archetypes?) of the sort who name their child Ian.

But, you know what? As a pretty white-bread whitey who grew up in the ghetto and in the trailer park instead of any side that could be called “upper,” I’m not offended because:

  • I can laugh at myself and those who look like me.
  • There’s no money for me in faking outrage.

At any rate, a pleasant and amusing way to spend a couple of hours.

Apparently, it proved lucrative for Nia Vardalos. She had a hit film that spawned a franchise (a couple of sequels over the decades including one that’s forthcoming) and a television show based on the movie. She’s also had a career with television appearances and small movie roles over the years, but she did not replicate the success of this film into leading role success in the cinema.

I would draw a parallel to my own creative career, gentle reader, but you’re here on this blog, and this blog is pretty much it.

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