My Big Fat Greek Wedding trilogy proves good things don’t always come in threes
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MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3
91 minutes, rated PG
I hate to go full Gus Portokalos on you all, but in Greece, we have a proverb that goes a little like this: You can’t step in the same river twice. My Yiayia always said it, along with her other favourite phrases, “Haven’t you eaten already?” and “Which one are you again?”
Essentially, it means that repeating past experiences is impossible as time changes all things.
Say cheese-y! (L to R) Nia Vardalos stars as “Toula” and John Corbett stars as “Ian” in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3. Credit: Courtesy of Yannis Drakoulidis / Focus Features
Oh, how I wish someone had shared this gem with Nia Vardalos, writer, producer, star and (this time round) director of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.
For those who don’t recall, a Big Fat Greek reminder: In 2002, Vardalos wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a romantic comedy based on experiences in her own extended family of Greek immigrants.
Vardalos played Toula Portokalos, a 30-something daughter from a traditional Greek-American family who lose their minds when she falls for Ian Miller (John Corbett), a decidedly non-Greek high school teacher.
The film became a surprise hit, taking an all-time worldwide gross of $567 million against a budget of only $7.5 million, being praised by critics and earning Vardalos an Oscar nomination for the screenplay.
The first My Big Fat Greek Wedding film was a surprise hit, earning Nia Vardalos an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.
Since then, she has been trying to recapture that magic, first with a short-lived 2003 TV sitcom spinoff, My Big Fat Greek Life, then a disappointing 2016 sequel to the film, and now My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.
Unfortunately for Vardalos, the proof is in the proverb: you really can’t step in the same river twice or, it seems, three times.
On paper, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 seeks to move the story forward by revisiting the past: Toula and her entire extended family must honour their father’s dying wish by returning to his village in Greece and attending a reunion with his childhood friends.
Sadly, there is some truth in this narrative device, which incorporates the real-life passing of Michael Constantine, the actor who played the family’s patriarch, Gus, in the first two films.
But mostly, it feels more like an excuse for the cast to spend a few months filming in Greece, not that you can blame them; Corfu looks idyllic, and there are just enough drone shots of the Acropolis to make you appreciate its glory.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Greece steals the show while the rest of the cast struggles to get out of holiday mode. John Corbett, who is having the strangest career renaissance of all time, doesn’t appear to know if he’s playing Aidan in And Just Like That… or Ian in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but no one seems to mind.
Meanwhile, Australian Gia Carides is possibly the best bit of the film, but criminally underused; see also former N*Sync star Joey Fatone.
L to R: Gia Carides as “Nikki” and Joey Fatone as “Angelo”.
There are some lazy attempts at modernising the story. Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) praises the “alternative lifestyle” of Victory (Melina Kotselou), the town’s non-binary mayor. “My daughter is divorced, and my son is gay. Do you like to wear boy clothes?” Oh, OK.
Ultimately, this has never been a franchise that relied on subtlety, instead offering charm and heart to paper over the cracks. This time round even the warm and fuzzy bits feel forced, and it’s hard not to feel that My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 won’t be the happily ever after Vardalos was hoping for.
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