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.