Another movie, another misleading trailer.
True Confession: I didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for this sequel because the trailers do their best to make it look like the person getting married is about 14, aka Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian’s (John Corbett) daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Between the trailers that give away all the movie’s best parts (looking at you, Zootopia) or are completely misleading about their tone and subject matter (hey there, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot), I’m at a point where I try to avoid seeing any trailer of a movie I actually WANT to see.
Not Really A Spoiler: However, this movie is not the squicky thing its trailer makes it out to be. It’s also not hiding a “big” twist. It’s a tiny twist, and a twist you’ve seen many times before in any form of generational movie, be it comedy or drama. Half of you have already guessed this twist by now, trust me. Ready for the “huge twist” the trailers are trying to hide from you?
It’s not, thank God, the not even 18-year-old teenagers getting married. There’s a snafu with the grandparents’ marriage license and it’s their wedding being planned. Oh, what a thigh-slapping shocker. That the people making and promoting this movie think that this is a big twist that cannot be revealed lest the movie be ruined is the most shocking thing about it.
This is an extremely typical generational movie. The parents are trying hard but have to deal with their child leaving the nest and ailing parents. The grandparents and extended family are all “wacky” but loving and always there for each other no matter what. The teenager is just this side of needing to be slapped but manages to come around and be a human being. The little kids are “adorbs”.
There’s a lot of “get married and have babies” going on in this movie, and while everyone’s excited that Paris has been accepted to two prestigious colleges, literally no one gives a crap about what she’s going to study, what she wants to become, how she wants to impact the world. Do you have a date for prom, why do you want to leave home to go to school, and when will you get a Greek boyfriend are the main topics surrounding her.
We also see her have this gigantic change of heart about her family that feels like some transitional scenes were cut for time. Time also moves very fast in this movie without a lot of clues as to how much of it has passed. The pacing isn’t off, it’s just that you will suddenly realize it’s got to have been weeks since the last scene and yet you have no clue that those weeks have passed.
What’s surrounding Toula and Ian is that all they’ve done is live for their daughter and Toula’s parents and extended family and they’re “losing each other”. Only not really. I mean, really not really. There is more danger that you, in the audience, will choke on a piece of popcorn than that anything is actually going to break up Toula and Ian. Or anyone else, for that matter.
This is a very safe movie in that there is no real danger, there is no real pain, and there is no real reaction to any issue other than everyone screaming, “Opa!” Everything is handled nicely by people smiling and being pleasant to unpleasant people or by “big secrets” being reacted to in a way that anyone with an actual big secret can only pray for. This is as much of a fantasy as any movie Disney has ever put out. It’s the movie equivalent of comfort food.
John Stamos and Rita Wilson have joined the cast in tiny roles, and they sing a song together that you won’t really be able to hear due to what else is going on in that scene, and Rita sings the closing credits song. She’s the producer of this film and launching her singing career and her voice is, thankfully, like the movie, quite safe and nice.
The hubs passed on this one and the (male) friend who came with me loved this. He’d re-watched MBFGW 1 in preparation and literally was super excited to see the next installment. Most of the audience seemed to share his enthusiasm.
A word about that. While you can follow what’s going on without watching the first movie, this movie does nothing, absolutely nothing, to tell you who is who and how they’re related to each other. I literally didn’t realize who several characters were until we were at least 2/3rds of the way through the movie. I mean, it’s been 15 years since the first movie – people do age and such and I didn’t re-watch the first one in preparation. In that sense, it didn’t matter, but in another sense, I’d have liked to have known who was who because it does affect what’s going on. Basically, the screenwriter (Vardalos) seems to have expected that her audience has the first MBFGW memorized. Meaning it’s just a little harder for someone who hasn’t seen, or doesn’t really remember, the first movie to follow who is who and why they’re all living on the same block and in each other’s houses and business as if they’re the cast of Seinfeld.
As with SPECTRE last year, there isn’t a scene in this movie you haven’t seen before somewhere else and not just in the original MBFGW. Practical Magic, any movie with parents and teenagers made in the last 30 years, any movie with couples and older relatives made in the last 30 years, Moonstruck, any “ethnic” movie of any kind, they’ve all got a scene or two in here. There is nothing new or groundbreaking about this movie.
And yet, it doesn’t matter. If you loved or liked the first one, you’re going to love or like this one, too. The cast is all back, their timing is still perfect, the script is still funny and sweet with just the right amount of pathos, and the ending makes you happy and definitely leaves room for MBFGW 3. You know, when Paris is actually of age and has graduated from college.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
After spending most of their time focusing on their troubling teenage daughter, Toula and Ian are facing martial problems while also having to deal with yet another Greek wedding – this time, even bigger and fatter.
Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Elena Kampouris, Alex Wolff, Louis Mandylor, Bess Meisler, Bruce Gray, Fiona Reid, Ian Gomez, Jayne Eastwood, Mark Margolis, Andrea Martin, Michael Constantine
Directed by: Kirk Jones
Written by: Nia Vardalos
Produced by: Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Gary Goetzman