My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 arrives fourteen years after the surprise hi filmt. In the world of the movie, more than fourteen years has passed. Toula (Nia Vardalos) now has a seventeen-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). The teenager seems to be mortified by the behavior her large Greek family, and Toula is stressed out by the prospect of her daughter moving somewhere far away for college. At the same time, Toula is spending less and less time with husband Ian (John Corbett) as she deals with one family crisis after another. The latest crisis: her father discovers that he is technically not married to her mother. This leads the family to band together to put on another big wedding.
This is the movie in broad strokes. The production seems determined to give every member of this very large cast something to do. And so, there is a multitude of little subplots that serve to shift the spotlight to various characters. It is actually tough to say what the movie is really about. The lengthy opening voiceover talks of Toula's dissatisfaction with where she is in life now, having given up her career as a travel agent to help out in her family's restaurant. Later on, it is mentioned that she is making an effort to try and help less, but this doesn't really pan out.
In spreading out the story, the movie struggles to hold on to any particular emotion. There isn't enough time to get in depth into any of these particular subplots. It feels like conflicts are magically resolved, the characters simply deciding they've had enough of feeling a certain way and moving on to something else. This makes for a very tepid film. Its depiction of marital stagnation is so tame that it barely registers. It plays out a full teenage romance in what amounts to maybe ten minutes of screen time. Big decisions are rushed through, without really considering any of the consequences.
This all adds up to nothing much. At best, it's a collection of little familial tics built up into a massive farce. At worst, it seems to try to pass off genuinely bad behavior as cutesy family eccentricity. Without a real story to prop up these elements, the movie at times feels horribly empty. It never really addresses the harm that is being done with the family's smothering ways. It treats it all as equally harmless, as just coming out of a misguided sense of love and loyalty. But there comes points where it all just feels like a very toxic environment.
All this comes with an aesthetic that feels like it belongs on a television screen ten years ago. The pacing is clunky, with too much air between jokes. It is as if the movie is pausing for laughter that just isn't coming. Nia Vardalos doesn't seem to have gotten better as an actress in the last fourteen years. She still looks uncomfortable on screen, her body weirdly stiff in highly animated scenes. John Corbett doesn't fare any better, nor does Elena Kampouris. It is the supporting cast that finds some comfort in these roles. Michael Constantine is a watchable grump, and with what little she's given, Lainie Kazan delivers a surprisingly moving performance.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 doesn't improve on the first movie, which wasn't really that good to begin with. But that film had a measure of freshness and focus, qualities that this sequel lacks severely. This movie feels dated, its writing and its technique desperately behind the times. The charm of the specifics of Greek family life only goes so far. At some point, it becomes clear that the movie doesn’t know where it wants to go, and simply settles for a vague feeling of positivity that amounts to nothing real.
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