Gee, I hate to throw cold water on this moistening hotbed of Chickus Flickus, but my lovely and gracious wife saw this at the movies with a girlfriend of hers recently. She proclaimed it "laugh out loud funny" and said it was "not to be missed." So she rented it this week for the rest of the family to see. You have to realize, God bless her, that this is a woman who listens to aerobic music as actual "music" while she's cleaning up or cooking. This is a woman who reads romance novels for entertainment. This is a woman who had Billy Joel records when I met her. This is a woman who thinks this web site is a grand waste of your time and mine. (Well, she may be right about that one.) But what makes her special is not her artistic tastes. Come to think of it, maybe the cynics in life (like me) try to find women like this to marry, just to balance things out and keep them from going over that last ledge. Think Sylvia Plath and the nuptial choice she made. There was a Head of Human waiting to happen, eh?

Anyway, I watched this film this afternoon and didn't laugh once. In fact, I cringed at least a dozen times. I felt as if I'd eaten a package of sour fruit Skittles. I can't say I hated these characters, but I can damn sure tell you I didn't give a whit about what happened to them. What happens to them is totally unbelievable, anyway.

You've got a 30 year-old girl who is so dominated by her Greek family that she can't tell them "no" about anything when she meets "Mr. Perfect"? Mr. Perfect doesn't think twice about going along with all the shenanigans and baggage that come with this relationship? The relationship actually works out?

I can tell you that I am not Greek. But I do know this longhaired teacher with whom the 30 year-old girl gets involved. He's played by John Corbett who is basically playing the same laid-back heartthrob as he did in Sex and the City. This dude would not have put up with the first of many degradations for this woman. She's not all that. If he wants her this badly, it's for an ill purpose. They do NOT wind up, six years later, living in a house next to these dysfunctional Greeks whose women have moustaches and whose young men have nothing but ill intent huddled in their lame brains.

The original stage monologue by Nia Vardalos might have been funny. Tom Hanks and his Greek-born actress wife, Rita Wilson, probably saw the stage performance and she probably convinced him to co-produce (with Gary Goetzman) this film adaptation. The screenplay is written by Vardalos and set is changed from her native Canada to Chicago.

As with most films, the rise or fall of the final product usually rests with the director. In this case, it's Joel Zwick, whose resume includes such television staples as Laverne and Shirley, Full House and Family Matters. I'm sure you can clearly see the problem.

As for all the belly laughs in the theatre; I'm just glad I wasn't there. I haven't walked out on a movie in years, but I would have had to hit the exit sign if everyone but me was laughing at this gut-wrencher.

Obviously, my recommendation is to avoid this film. This movie reeks like fetid feta.

I just watched this movie mere moments before reading dannye's review and had to disagree.

I'm not Greek, but my family is not too far removed from an ethnic European peasant background similar to what is portrayed in this movie. My parents grew up in a town where everyone spoke a language other than English (in our case, a vulgar dialect of German). I can recall big tacky weddings with polka bands. I have lots of fat and loud relatives. My parents were deeply embarrassed by the bigotry and prejudice, and I'm glad I was raised not to be so ignorant and parochial. They did manage, however, to transmit some family virtues, for example, a religious piety that is quiet and simple and deep.

Those kind of virtues don't make for very interesting individual "characters" --what dannye apparently wants to see in a romantic comedy-- but preserving the good while shucking the bad is a vital central theme of the American experience, and perhaps on a more abstract level, all of civilization. As a bit of dialogue from My Big Fat Greek Wedding puts it:

Don't let your past dictate who you are, but let it be a piece of who you will become.

I suppose one could argue that the "past" laid on this movie even more heavily than it did on its protaganist, in the form of clichés like the overprotective but lovable father, the crazy grandmother, and the whole "my embarrasing family" schtick. Some of the really tiresome clichés which afflict this material, however, were absent and I did not miss them.

I was particularly relieved that the main character did not leave town, go to an Ivy League college, or become a famous artists/writer/director/producer. I sometimes suspect it is our constant desire to overcome our past that creates the dry, dull and empty qualities of American mass culture: with the irony that in seeking to leave behind the baggage of family and culture to become "individuals" we instead become boring and just like everyone else. Writers who resent and judge their background often portray the older generation as politically conservative but hypocritical or morally bankrupt. That doesn't happen in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It also spares us the "I came to America with eight dollars" routine: though Toula's Dad says this, it isn't intended to browbeat his daughter or accuse her entire generation of being spoiled or lazy. This film was refreshingly free of judgmental subplots and symbolic political agendas.

And I just liked the dialogue. I love how everyone just ignores things that don't fit with their own reality. When Toula informs her aunt that her boyfriend is a vegetarian and does not eat meat, a loud party comes to a crashing halt and there is an awkward silence until the aunt says "That's ok, I'll make lamb." If you don't find that sort of thing funny (as apparently dannye does not) then do follow his advice. If you're a Yankee who thinks big hair is a laugh riot, think it's a scream when your brothers and cousins threaten your fiancé with death, and roll in the aisle when people get insulted in languages they don't understand, then go rent My Big Fat Greek Wedding this weekend.

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