The story of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is basically the cookie cutter romance we see in all Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts movies. It offers the illusion of originality by bombarding audiences with Greek stereotypes, but really clings to the formulaic romance comedy. Nia Vardalos is at least likable as the desperate and lonely Toula who feels pressure to get married by her parents and entire family. She’s the underdog who comes through in the end and that’s what helps this movie become likable. What ultimately drags this movie down is the pacing of the story.
The character Toula is a frumpy thirty year old who, when she decides to re-do her image and take chances in life, falls in love with the mysterious and brooding Ian Miller (John Corbett), and they manage to fall in love. Fast. Really fast. Nia Vardalos’ family is quirky and truly an eccentric bunch. Her mother Maria (Lainie Kazan) specializes in giving her kids guilt trips and succeeds in most cases when it comes to Toula’s single life. Gus (Michael Constantine), her father who is the traditional and proud Greek father is probably the most hilarious of the bunch. The family is big, really big and very tight knit; it’s the true soul of the movie because we can feel the bond between all the relatives. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is sort of a mis-title for this film.
You somehow get the sense this movie deals with and is told around the time of the marriage but the marriage doesn’t come until the last half hour. Until then, we’re treated with a story that, though charming, is hardly interesting. The movie is helped by the great performances by the cast and that pretty much ends it. Not all true stories are interesting, and this proves it. I never cared much for the story because it’s all so fluffy and cute, we never get the sense that Nia Vardalos is telling the whole story of the marriage, except sets an unrealistic portrait of romance and love. There’s barely any emphasis on the love between these two characters, only the involvement of their romance and the family that get intertwined with their lives.
The romantic tale speeds through the hour and a half mark and every aspect of the storytelling feels rushed and sometimes tacked on leading up to something, but we’re never sure what. In twenty minutes we learn that they fall in love, but do they ever give us a chance to absorb and feel for them? The marriage is ultimately very scarce and it would have been very amusing to see Toula preparing and watch some hilarious antics, but alas, we’re barely given anything. In the end “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a barely passable formula romance comedy with a painfully mediocre leading lady.