Movie Review

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

MPAA Rating: PG for sensuality and language

Reviewed by: Denny Wayman and Hal Conklin
Reprinted with permission from CinemaInFocus.com

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Romantic Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.

Starring: Nia Vardalos, Gia Carides, John Corbett, Joey Fatone, Ian Gomez | Directed by: Joel Zwick | Produced by: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Rita Wilson | Written by: Nia Vardalos | Distributor: IFC Films

In the film genre in which cultural differences are the basis of the humor, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” takes the proverbial cake. Though much pain has come from the racial and cultural differences that divide us, the hope for our future rests in our being able to love and accept one another not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

Scene from “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” This message, that people exactly like us are boring and that we would find people of other cultures more captivating, is clearly the meaning behind story. With a mutual attraction that creates not only some humorous antics but also some endearing vulnerabilities, Ian Miller (John Corbett) and Toula Portokos (Nia Vardalos) begin an unlikely dating relationship.

Toula is a member of a large and proud Greek family whose primary business is a Greek restaurant. Portraying her family in caricatured extremes, Toula has only one purpose in life: to marry a Greek man. But now, at the age of 30, this possibility seems to have passed her by. When Ian enters her life, he provides the spark that begins a whole process of differentiation in which Toula begins to make her own choices about her life.

However, this American value of individuality is tempered within the film as she struggles to accept both her family and her new, non-Greek lover. And so she indirectly asks Ian to convert to her Greek Orthodox faith.

This is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the film. Religious foundations of our cultural differences are strong and deep. But the film presents such a shallow view of his conversion that it pictures him being baptized in an inflatable kiddy pool in the beautiful sanctuary of Toula’s church. Our lives could have been enriched by exploring the moral, ethical and religious struggle we have when cultures clash.

Marriage from the perspective of Toula’s Greek family is not just the uniting together of two people, but it is the joining together of two clans. It is the clan that can be the fortress that holds the family together, or the prison that keeps one in chains. By contrast, as exhibited by Ian’s family, marriage can become just another consumer decision with utilitarian value shared with business associates at “the club.”

Nevertheless, the celebration of life presented in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a wonderful message of the value of family with its cultural traditions and relationships. Such a message is helpful in defining and celebrating our own family, culture and religious heritage.

Year of Release—2002

Viewer Comments
Positive—This was a wonderfully funny movie. There was one instance of using the Lord’s name in vain, and a scene or two where a couple is in bed premaritally, but no actual nudity… The family of the girl is portrayed as warm, loving and concerned. Their church is important to all; the groom even converts, complete with baptism. All in all, my husband and I enjoyed the film and had very few objections.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Leigh Carpenyter, age 48

This movie was a typical chick flick. The bottom line is any true believer should be offended by this movie. All other reviewers left our the fact that the name of our Lord Jesus was used as well as the many times that, “Oh my God” was heard. This movie should not be seen by anyone under the legal age limit as it promotes premarital relations, alcoholic beverage consumption, and foul language in any degree is unacceptable especially when inviting children to view a film. I know this movie was trying to depict the humor in the Greek family and this wedding situation, however a true Christian review should warn believers of all trappings, especially when the name of our Savior is used as an expletive. I saw no warning in any of your reviews and we had to sit there while Jesus was once again shamed.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive]
—Teresa Ricci, age 49

Positive—This movie is really, really funny. It teaches us that we are all equal despite ethnic backgrounds. There are some sexual undertones in the film but they are very few and far between and to make up for the sexual undertones, the film has a LOT of funny and charming moments. The guys who played Toula’s fiancee, Ian Miller, and her brother (forgot his name) are really good looking. This is a great chick flick and a cool date movie. Though it is PG, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that will go over little kids’ heads. It’s suitable for anyone 12 and over.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Shannon Hammell, age 20
Positive—This romantic comedy is different than most, but very amusing. There was a time during the movie when my friend turned to me and said, “I can’t believe this is only rated PG!” However, from then on the movie seemed to get a lot cleaner. The title gives it away that it’s based on a family with Greek faith, so don’t walk into the theater expecting it to have Christian innuendos. Cute and humorous especially for girls.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Stephanie, age 19
Positive—Being from a Greek Orthodox family from Chicago, I’d like to specify that those characters are NOT caricatured extremes… that’s how we are. It was very heartwarming for me, as a woman soon to embark on the journey of marriage in a Greek Orthodox church. And as for Ian’s baptism, the baptismal bath is made for a little baby. Very few people become baptized after birth into the Greek Orthodox church; you’re either born it, or you’re not. Therefore, the church had to make allowances for an adult convert. In Chicago in the winter, there’s no suitable lakes or streams to baptize converts in. This movie uplifted my heart, and my boyfriend (the non-Greek I intend to marry in my Orthodox church) was touched by it as well.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Katie, age 20
Neutral—Simplistic plot, highly improbable match, kind of boring, some morally objectionable content, but outrageously funny caricatures and lots of laugh out loud humor. I laughed a lot, out loud, but left just before the end.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Halyna
Positive—Ditto, Tina D. She voiced my opinion, word for word! PS—This is a true story.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—BJ, age 53
Positive—This was one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. There is some objectionable language, including taking the Lords name in vain a few times. There is the insinuation of premarital sex, though nothing really graphic. This is not a Christian movie! Don’t go see it and then pan it here for not being biblically based, because that’s not what it is advertised as! It is a very funny caricature of big Greek families (though you could substitute almost any culture). Definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. Great writing, wonderfully acted, excellent script. In my conservative opinion, probably not for kids under 16 years.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Tina D., age 37
Comments from young people
Positive—This is one of the best movies I had been to in a long time!! I went with my mom to see it, and ended up seeing it 3 times on different occasions. each time being as good as the first. It is extremely hilarious, and overall a very nice movie. I think this is the fist time I ever heard an audience laugh so hard. I recommend this movie, not just as a wonderful chick flick, cause even my 17 year old brother enjoyed it, and he isn’t really into that kind of movie .WARNING: Be prepared to laugh!!!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Michelle, age 14