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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

D: Kirk Jones / 94m

Cast: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor, Elena Kampouris, Alex Wolff, Bess Meisler, Rita Wilson, John Stamos, Mark Margolis, Rob Riggle

The extended Portokalos family are back, but since we saw them in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), things haven’t remained the same: Toula (Vardalos) has had to close her travel agency due to the recession, and the family dry cleaning business has gone the same way. All that’s left is the restaurant started by her father, Gus (Constantine). On the home front, Toula and her husband, Ian (Corbett) have a grown-up daughter, Paris (Kampouris), who can’t wait to head off to college and escape her family’s overbearing attempts to make sure she’s okay – and Gus’s constant reminders that she needs to marry at the first opportunity. Some things though haven’t changed: Gus is still convinced that the Greeks invented everything, and that he’s a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. When this assertion is challenged he decides to prove his claim by entering his ancestors’ details on an online ancestry site. But when he starts going through his paper records he discovers that his marriage certificate was never signed by the priest, and that he and wife Maria (Kazan) aren’t officially married.

Expecting Maria to go along with his idea of renewing their vows, Gus is horrified when she tells him she wants a proper wedding, and more importantly, a proper proposal, something Gus failed to provide fifty years before. Gus baulks at this and a stalemate ensues, with each proving as stubborn as each other. It’s only when Gus falls ill and Maria refuses to go with him to the hospital that Gus relents and proposes. Maria accepts his proposal and when Gus is well again, she begins to plan their wedding. Meanwhile, Paris gets accepted to a college in New York, Toula and Ian try to spend more time together and rekindle the romance that brought them together, Gus’s estranged brother, Panos (Margolis) arrives from Greece for the wedding, and the ancestry site replies to Gus’s application.

MBFGW2 - scene2

If you liked My Big Fat Greek Wedding then you’ll definitely like My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. There’s very little here that’s different from the first movie (“Now, give me a word, any word; and I will show you how the root of that word is Greek.”), and Vardalos, who wrote the script, wisely plays up the original’s strengths in favour of doing anything too new or complicated. The end result is a movie that complements the original without challenging it any way, and which offers a pleasant if unexceptional viewing experience for anyone meeting the Portokalos family for the first time.

Vardalos has also been lucky enough to reassemble everyone from the first movie, and everyone reconnects with their characters as if they’ve only been away from them for a couple of months instead of fourteen years. Martin is wisely given ample opportunity to show off her particular brand of forthright comedy, while Meisler, as Mana-Yiayia, steals every scene she’s in. It’s a tribute to Vardalos’ skills as a writer that she manages to find moments for all the characters to shine, and she doesn’t make Toula the main focus of the movie as she did before. That said, there are still the usual themes surrounding family, and mutual love and support, and director Kirk Jones adds a degree of sparkle to proceedings, raising this way up and above the level of unnecessary sequel.

Rating: 6/10 – while it’s not the most original of sequels, nevertheless My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is much better thanks to Vardalos’ decision to not tinker too much with the original format; still, it is formulaic, and it doesn’t stretch itself in any new directions, but it’s a nice, friendly movie that just wants to entertain – and by and large, it does.