My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is as Harmlessly Forgettable as its Romcom Predecessors
For those who loved 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding or its belated 2016 sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, it will come as no surprise that My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 will be right up your alley. Writer, director, and star Nia Vardalos returns to conclude her trilogy, offering up more of the same harmlessly obvious rom-com antics fans of the series seem to thrill over.
Whether that’s a positive or a negative is in many ways completely beside the point. Vardalos knows what her dedicated audience wants to see, and she’s more than content to give them that and exactly nothing else. She peppers it with a dab of social commentary here, a dollop of romantic whimsy there, and smothers it all in layer after layer of Grecian melodramatic schmaltz that’s as off-putting as it is strangely charming.
After the recent death of her beloved father, Gus Portokalos, and the arrival of an invitation to attend a family reunion in Greece, Tula (Vardalos) sees this as a sign. Before he died, Gus asked his eldest daughter to deliver his diary to his three best friends, and this is her opportunity to do just that. Soon Tula, her husband Jan (John Corbett), their college-aged only child Paris (Elena Kampouris), Tulas’s brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), and eccentric aunts Voula (Andrea Martin) and Frieda (Maria Vacratsis) are all on a plane to visit the old country.
There’s not a lot more to it. Actress Lainie Kazan (returning as Portokalos family matriarch Maria) is sidelined this time around — with her character battling the early stages of dementia — but still manages to make the most of the two scenes she appears in. Gia Carides and Joey Fatone are also back, but they’re only involved during the film’s final third, as Nikki and Angelo run around Greece partying it up while searching for Gus’s childhood chums.
Newcomers include Elias Kacavas as one of Paris’s classmates at NYU. He’s been brought to Greece as a guide and interpreter for the group (even though they don’t really need one) by the romantically devious Voula. There’s also Melina Kotselou as Victory, the plucky young mayor of Gus’s tiny hometown, and Stephanie Nur as Syrian immigrant Qamar, and they’re both key to how everything will turn out for the Portokalos clan during their adventure.
Vardalos unsurprisingly packs her scenario with plenty of twists and turns, and none of them are anything approaching shocking. There are lost loves, new friendships, unanticipated newfound family relations, and even another set of nuptials (this is a Big Fat Greek Wedding entry, after all). Everything moves from one scene to the next with perfunctory simplicity, and all the pieces fit together with artless exactitude. It’s as cookie-cutter as these things get, so becoming overly emotionally involved in the outcome isn’t easy.
But it’s also not altogether necessary. This cast of pros knows what they are doing, especially the always delightful combination of Martin and Vacratsis. There are singular moments of tenderness that do resonate, and it’s so benignly inoffensive that it’s honestly difficult to care how unoriginal it all ultimately proves to be. Happy endings and simple resolutions are par for the course, and for most, that’s how it should be.
Personally, this series has never done much for me, and that’s the case with this third effort, too. As great as the ensemble might be, Vardalos aims much too low. She refuses to shake things up and refrains from taking any big swings. There is humdrum patter to all of this I found tiresome, and even if there are a few hearty laughs and a handful of authentic character beats, none are even slightly memorable.
Not that it matters. The food porn is terrific, and like its predecessors, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 does what it sets out to do and precious little more. While not much is of consequence, it still goes down smoothly enough that the fact it vanishes from memory the second the film comes to an end is hardly the disaster it might have been. The Portokalos clan’s purportedly final adventure (although I wouldn’t bet on that being true) is a tourist trap of emotional pabulum laid on as thick as freshly mixed tzatziki sauce.
– Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: 2 (out of 4)