The Dysfunctional Wholesomeness My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

GreekA quarter of the way through My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 it becomes clear that you are witnessing something slightly rare. Not only are there multiple female characters actually talking to each other; there’s a diverse cast of different ages; and it pushes against dated gender roles; but the rarest feat of all is that My Big Fat Geek Wedding 2 is a comedy sequel that works.

Years after the events of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula Portokalos-Miller (Nia Vardalos on acting, screenwriting and producing duties) and her husband, Ian (John Corbett), are living in the suburbs of Chicago with their teenage daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is about to leave for college. Toula is struggling to accept her daughter is about to flee the nest, worries her marriage has become a chore and supports her aging parents (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan) by working at their restaurant (the travel agency from the first film has gone out of business). And of course, at every opportunity the extended Portokalos family are thrusting themselves upon every situation.

A car drives past the homes of the Portokalos clan in the opening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, you see how close the family is—they’re all neighbours. Pappous Portokalos is doing the school run, and as he stops at each home to pick up grandchildren (endless grandchildren), the houses get louder with their Greek devotion. The final house they stop at is a replica of a traditional domed Greek villa painted the same colours as the nation’s flag. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is inflated to ridiculous levels by director, Kirk Jones, and it allows Vardalos’ screenplay to fill the exaggerated world with characters so big it seems the screen might split open. Vardalos does overstuff the story with subplots but the Portakalos family is rich with a mix of characters that drive the plot with their eccentricities. The film thrives as an ensemble comedy but it never embraces the opportunity to hit the comedic beats with the faster pace and joke frequency that a larger cast allows.

Throwing the Greek aesthetic aside, Vardalos understands the foundations of a suffocating family unit that makes the dysfunction a cross-cultural touchstone to make the humour pop; even though the film has jokes that sometimes land with a thud. The My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 ideal of family comes with zero irony, similar to the way it’s presented in the Fast and the Furious franchise when Dom Torreto (Vin Diesel) refers to his unrelated crew as his ‘family’ while toasting a frosty Corona at a backyard barbeque. As you pull back on the Portokalos clan and see the extended family that has married into the chaos or been bonded by friendship. It’s hard to deny the old-fashioned sentiment of an accepting, loving family, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 never compromises on this notion.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is dominant with female characters and a majority of the plot has them questioning their status amongst a group of oafish men that dictate their lives. Boys are so highly valued within the Portokalos family, but Jones and Vardalos show them as louts most of the time to expose this notion as nonsensical in 2016. ‘Get married and have babies’ is the line that gets rolled out the most and it becomes especially unnerving when it’s directed at the lone teenage girl, Paris. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 allows the women to push back on the gender dynamics within Greek culture (and the patriarchy in general), only betraying the intent by having many of the female conversations dominated by the topic of men, but the film has mockery for anyone with XY chromosomes and it blossoms by celebrating what the women endure.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a goofy family reunion that delights in the dysfunctional wholesomeness of unwieldy families.

Cameron Williams

The Popcorn Junkie