MY BIG FAT GREEK
reviews My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Tom Hanks' newest comedic triumph
Important lessons learned from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding":
1) Never turn down an offer of food from your future mother-in-law - it's the equivalent of telling her that she's ugly. Also, telling her that you're a vegetarian is the same as telling her you are a serial killer.
2) Spitting is an acceptable practice but should only be used as a means to ward off evil. It should not be used as a casual greeting.
3) Buy lots of Windex.
I can safely say this isn't a "chick flick" --- men will totally get a kick out of it too...
The fact that a wedding WILL take place at the end is the movie title's big giveaway. But the events leading up to it make the entire experience worth the wait.
One of the best things about this movie is the "realism". It focuses on the romance of a thirtysomething Greek woman named Toula (Nia Vardalos) who manages to look quite attractive after pulling herself out of a "frumpy phase" (as she calls it). She's not rail thin --- there's a LOT of woman to love here --- but still beautiful and appealing. Her Mr. Right is Ian Miller (John Corbett) a schoolteacher with a gut who is also very handsome in his own way.
Yeah, so this movie is nothing like others that have a celebrity like Drew Barrymore playing a character who has "Never Been Kissed".
Toula is part of the large Portokalos clan, who firmly believe that Greek women were "put upon this earth for three purposes: to marry a Greek man, to have Greek children, and to feed everyone until the day she dies". Older sister Athena has fulfilled this with a vengance. Toula's father Gus (hilariously played by Michael Constantine) comments more than once that Toula "looks so... OLD" , and begs her to let him send her to Greece to find a nice Greek man. She is SO not having that, and isn't even that interested in getting married --- which causes most of the women in her family to genuflect in horror.
I'll interject here that one of the movie's funniest running jokes is the fact that Gus believes Windex can cure anything. The first night Ian has dinner at Toula's house, he grabs a hot platter. The moment he shows an indication of pain, Gus whips out the Windex and sprays Ian's hands.
Younger brother Nick isn't married yet, but apparently that isn't a source of worry for the family --- "he has lots of time"...
"Dancing Zorba's" is a Greek Restaurant owned by papa Gus. It is while working in the restaurant that Toula first sees Ian Miller and is pretty much struck dumb by his presence. It's a quick scene, but shortly thereafter Toula is inspired to do something with her life -- and with a little help from mom Maria (Lanie Kazan), Toula enrolls for some courses at the local college.
She begins an amazingly fast, yet believable transformation with her appearance here, and it's surprising to see that there actually is a natural beauty underneath all the frumpiness. Mama Marie and Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) become involved in getting Gus to let Toula work at Voula's Mount Olympus Travel Agency. This is where she meets Ian again, although he doesn't immediately realize that she is the same person he encountered at the restaurant weeks earlier.
Biggest issue is that Ian is not Greek. This is a problem because as you'll see by the fact that the Protokalos house resembles the Parthenon and has the Greek flag painted on their garage door that Greek pride runs amok here.
A little detour in the film shows Gus inviting assorted Greek men to dinner for Toula to meet in the hopes that she'll forget about Ian. Thing is, all the men are her father's age, and pretty squicky-looking. Obviously, this doesn't work.
Once the proposal is made, Ian and his family meet Toula's large clan, including all 27+ cousins whose names are Nick, Nick, Angelo, Angelo, Nick, Nikki, Angela and so on... Aunt Voula also introduces Ian's parents to Ouzo, a Greek liquor that seems to be continuously served and gulped throughout any and all Greek parties. Voula also discovers that Ian is a vegetarian, and proceeds to offer him lamb, which is conveniently being roasted on a spit in the Portokalos' front yard.
The preparation for the big day and the wedding itself follow, and I promise you'll be laughing the entire time. I especially liked the scene where Toula is walking down the aisle with her father. Earlier in the movie, it is explained that spitting on someone chases all the bad spirits away. So as Toula walks down the aisle, everyone on her side of the family spits on her when she passes them. The reactions on the other side of the aisle where Ian's family and friends are seated are priceless.
Vardalos not only stars as Toula, she wrote the play on which this movie was based. Another little-known, but becoming more familiar fact --- Rita Wilson (a Greek-American) saw the play and convinced husband Tom Hanks to produce it into a movie.
Moral of the story? Gus tells it best. Another running joke in the movie is that Gus will take ANY word and give you the Greek origin of that word (he handles the word "kimono" with ease). At the reception, during his toast Gus tells everyone that "Miller" goes back to the Greek word for "apple", and that "Portokalos" is the Greek word for "oranges". He then concludes, "in the end, we are all fruits."
Another indication that everyone is adaptable: On the way to the reception, Toula checks out her face for a pimple that had popped up earlier in the morning. She expresses relief that it had minimized. Ian admitted that he too had a pimple that morning. Toula looks at him and sees no sign of a zit anywhere. When she asks him what he did to get rid of it so fast, he responds "I sprayed Windex on it".
Greek or non-Greek, I think a lot of people in Hawaii will identify with the constant craziness and jabs at family traditions in this movie. All the performers are excellent, and make each character larger-than-life.
There are MANY other funny moments in this film that you can only get the full-effect from by actually watching it. I highly recommend this to anyone who needs a laugh.
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Rating Box - My Big Fat Greek
1 bottle of Windex, 2 shots of Ouzo, and a couple of spits for good
measure. A perfect 5 out of 5!
The Bottom Line
I give this movie a 5.0... 1 bottle of Windex, 2 shots of Ouzo, and a couple of spits for good measure.
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