20 November 2012

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (starring Nia Vardalos)

It's very rare for me to re-watch films - at least, it has been. While I re-read favourite books fairly regularly, the imagery of movies tends to stay with me longer and I'm far less likely to think of seeing something I've seen before, unless it was twenty or more years ago in the cinema.

However, some teenage friends have started coming over a couple of times per month to watch films of their choice from our collection; time was limited on Sunday, and the choice was 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding', which I saw, for the second time, less than two years ago.  I thought I might get bored, or even drop off... but found that I enjoyed it very much indeed.

The story revolves around Tula (played exceptionally well by Nia Vardalos), a Greek girl living in the United States. Her family are loud, and cheerful, and hard-working; caricatured, perhaps, and yet there's a great deal that we recognise, after living for fifteen years in Cyprus, where culture is very similar to that of Greece. Tula is expected to marry a nice Greek boy and raise Greek babies...

However, Tula is something of a geek, and does not appear to attract any boys, Greek or otherwise. She works in her father's restaurant, but is frustrated that it's a dead-end job which doesn't begin to take account of her intelligence. With her mother's help, she persuades her father to let her enrol on a computer course and then to work in the family travel agency... where she meets and falls in love with Ian (John Corbett) a quiet, all-American white English teacher. He is a very nice guy indeed, but absolutely not what her parents were hoping for.

That, basically, is the story. A young girl's bid for independence, and breaking out of the family expectations and stereotypes. Of course it pokes fun at Greek culture; it also pokes fun at American culture (Ian's parents are unbelievably naive, and don't appear to know about anything beyond US borders).  Tula's father Gus (Michael Constantine - a Greek American by nationality) is absolutely brilliant in his exaggerated control of his family, his desire for tradition, yet with a deep love for all his family.  There are echoes of 'Fiddler on the Roof' in the story, as well as some very funny moments, no less amusing for knowing that they were coming.

I had forgotten a lot of the detail of this film, and found that I enjoyed it very much indeed. I'm a little surprised that it's only rated PG in both the UK and the US; the content would not be of much interest to anybody under the age of about 13 or 14, and although there's no nudity, bad language or sex, there is the end of a bedroom scene where it's very clear what has gone on - something which I would have expected to raise the rating to 12/PG-13.

All in all, I'd recommend it highly to teenagers and adults, particularly anyone who knows anything about Greek and American culture.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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