Nice Greek girls are expected to do three things," explains Nia Vardalos early in her enormously successful semi-autobiographical film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. "Marry Greek boys, make Greek babies and feed everyone, until the day we die." Small wonder then that Toula Portokalos (Vardalos) -- in her thirties and dressed in various hues of the dung spectrum -- is considered well past her prime by her traditional Greek-American family. But while they see her as helping out in the family restaurant indefinitely, she has other ideas. In the first 20 minutes of the film, she goes back to school, experiences a magical transformation and meets up with Ian (John Corbett), the cute guy she used to ogle back in her ugly duckling days as a seating hostess.
The problem, of course, is that Ian isn't Greek. Which is what rescues My Big Fat Greek Wedding from being your basic Cinderella clich & eacute;. It's less about Toula's transformation than it is about family (how it shapes us, sustains us and/or holds us back) and love (how we're afraid to be different, to reveal ourselves or to trust that someone can see it all and come back for more).
That there is little in the way of actual conflict or suspense -- after all, anyone who can read the title knows how the movie will end -- is more than made up for by the script and the performances. Vardalos and Corbett display some convincing chemistry as the not-so-young lovers, even if Corbett's character is a little too sweet to be completely believable. Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin -- as Toula's mother and aunt, respectively -- are hilarious to watch even when they don't have any lines, and Michael Constantine is especially touching as Toula's fearful, Windex-loving father.
Unfortunately, the DVD version seems to suffer from the fact that everyone involved with the movie (with the exception of Corbett) is putting all of their energies into the upcoming TV series, My Big Fat Greek Life. There are no deleted scenes, no costume or set design extras (I was kind of hoping to see where they got the Portokalos family's orange living room lamp) or much in the way of Easter eggs. Still, if you liked the movie, the DVD is definitely worth having for the witty, affectionate commentary by Vardalos, Corbett and director Joel Zwick.
Publication date: 02/20/03