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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
2001's My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a surprise hit, and one of the last movies to keep playing in theaters for several months before home video release windows started shortening. It was followed up by a short-lived network TV series called "My Big Fat Greek Life" which made it onto DVD- watching that following the movie was like seeing the cast and characters enter an alternate universe where they were suddenly dumbed-down for general TV audiences with a laugh track accompanying everything that was the slightest bit funny. With that now gone from memory, they've returned for a sequel which didn't set the box office on fire quite as much as the first time, but at least it still resembles a real movie.
The events of the TV series, if they're going to count as having actually happened, occurred between the first movie's almost-ending and its epilogue which picked up six years later with Toula (Nia Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) having had a daughter named Paris. In this sequel, she's now 17 (played by Elena Kampouris) and about to go away to college in a few months, which would place the exact timeline at least a few years later than now, but if you've seen the TV series then this is easy to overlook. Now the odd thing is that most of the family, especially Toula's dad Gus (the unforgettable Michael Constantine) is holding her to basically the same expectations they held Toula to, even though Paris is only half-Greek on account of her father whom the family had a big issue with Toula marrying in the first movie. Gus is already telling her to start thinking about meeting and marrying "a nice Greek boy" and having children who would eventually make the family purely Greek again after being soiled by Ian's presence. Toula herself has a few expectations of Paris that everyone but her and Ian can see the unreasonableness of- mainly that she'll go to college in Chicago and not someplace far away from them. The family's tendency to show up together and making a big hurrah out of every event hasn't changed, as they all crash the college fair at Paris' high school. For good measure, Ian is now the principal of the school as well.
While Paris is one of the best parts of this sequel, the main conflict is something that is typical of those that serve as excuses for sequels: when going through some old documents, Gus finds his wedding certificate from 1963 and finds that the priest forgot to sign it- thus he and Maria (Lainie Kazan) were never actually married! I swear this has happened countless times in movies, though likely very few in real life- it seems like the standard go-to problem for movies in search of a plot or at least a sequel. Of course the only thing to do at this point is- have another Big Fat Greek Wedding! But just to keep the audience on edge, Maria isn't quite sure if she even wants to make the marriage legal and binding once she considers everything about Gus that annoys her!
I have really mixed feelings about this movie (and it's obviously causing me to use a lot of italics). From the above description it may not sound too appealing, and much of it certainly does reek of being a sequel for the sake of a sequel, but having enjoyed the first movie (but not the TV series) I still found it enjoyable enough. Having most of the original cast back certainly helps, and Elena Campouris as the couple's cynical half-Greek daughter is a good challenge to the rest of the family's general enthusiasm of all things Greek. Some other kids have been born into the family since the last movie as well, and they're more enthusiastic about learning that everything in the world has some sort of Greek-related origin and such. Michael Constantine's Gus is mostly the same character he was in the first movie (he even was pretty much in the sitcom, although dumbed-down a bit), still obsessed with Windex, and Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula still finds plenty of disgusting biological anecdotes to share. Still, considering Nia Vardalos is credited as the sole writer, one would think she would have clearly seen most of the mistakes her character makes here, especially the expectations she places on her daughter. There's also a small element of Toula and Ian's marriage (the one that was the entire reason for the first movie) "losing that spark" thrown into the story which ultimately doesn't make much of a difference other than to make viewers think that maybe the same thing is happening to the story.
This sequel trades 1.85 film for 2.35 digital this time around, and while the photography style and colors are rather plain it still comes across nicely detailed on this Blu-Ray- I only noticed a bit of noise in some black areas which looked like a by-product of the equipment used to shoot the movie. A standard DVD is also included, and sampling that the picture actually looked quite decent in comparison to the Blu-Ray, appearing better than average DVD quality.Sound:
The Blu-Ray's audio is a 5.1 mix in DTS Master Audio (Dolby Digital on the DVD) and is also quite plain, but the dialogue is well-recorded with the same type of traditional Greek-style music score used in the first movie. Surrounds are pretty much non-existent here, but most of the material doesn't call for them anyways. A descriptive audio track and French and Spanish dubbed tracks are also included on both discs, along with Spanish and French subtitles and English hearing-impaired ones.
"My Big Fat Greek Dinner" is a rather candid conversation with the primary cast members as they sit at a table in the Dancing Zorba restaurant set. They do quite a bit of reminiscing about the first movie being surprisingly popular and fans' reactions (Michael Constantine says that people have given him Windex bottles to autograph) and seem to have enjoyed making the sequel. This was one of the better extras I've seen for a recent movie in a while. A more traditional making-of segment called "Making the Greekquel" shows some production footage (sadly, I feel that the digital cameras seen here make this look more like a TV show or "video" than traditional film cameras would have) and more talk about the story, which seems that they were rather happy with it despite any criticisms it's received. Finally, there's a gag reel with about five minutes of actors flubbing their lines or other things ruining the takes, which is sometimes funny.
If you have BD-Live enabled, the Blu-Ray will show trailers for other Universal movies streamed from the internet in sub-par quality. If you have it disabled, the disc (as well as the DVD) opens with hi-def promos for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood, "American Girl: Lea to the Rescue", Kindergarten Cop 2 (despite only being available on standard DVD, so don't admire this trailer's picture quality too much), Honey 3 and a very short promo for By the Sea, all of which have to be chapter-skipped through if you just want to watch the movie. The package also includes a digital Ultraviolet code with coupons for Windex on the back.
Your enjoyment of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 will depend largely on your opinion of the first movie- if you didn't enjoy that, you likely won't like this either. For those who did like the first movie, this walks a very fine line between a welcome return of the characters and an obvious sequel for the sake of a sequel- I found it enjoyable just enough to tip the scales to Recommended.
Jesse Skeen is a life-long obsessive media collector (with an unhealthy preoccupation with obsolete and failed formats) and former theater film projectionist. He enjoys watching movies and strives for presenting them perfectly, but lacks the talent to make his own.