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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/21/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/15/2016
I feel that I've written a lot about belated sequels recently, as that seems to be a growing trend. Sometimes these are stories and characters that fans have been clamoring to see again. (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) And, sometimes they are things which were once popular...but no one was exactly begging for a return. The majority of these movies fall into the science-fiction or action genres. But the recentZoolander 2 shows that comedies can also join the ranks. However, we haven’t seen a lot of romantic comedies return after a long absence. (These movies seem to exist in enough abundance that we don’t need blasts from the past.) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 looks to change that.
2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding introduced us to Toula (Nia Vardalos), a woman whose desire for a “normal” life was often hampered by her clingy and over-protective Greek family. She meets a non-Greek man, Ian (John Corbett), and they fall in love and get married...and Ian must adapt to Toula’s crazy family. The new story picks up seemingly 17 years later. Toula and Ian are still together, raising their teenaged daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is beginning to look at colleges. Toula’s travel agency has closed, so she works at her father’s restaurant. Due to their jobs and the pressures of being parents, the romance has nearly left their marriage. Meanwhile, while researching his ancestry, Toula’s father, Gus (Michael Constantine), learns something which could threaten his marriage to Maria (Lainie Kazan). Now, Toula must worry about Paris and have to play matchmaker for her own parents.
When My Big Fat Greek Wedding was released in 2002, Nia Vardalos was a relative unknown and the film's only claim to fame was that Tom Hanks was one of the producers. But, the movie really clicked with audiences and the little $5 million production went on to bring in $241 million at the U.S. box office. It also garnered Vardalos an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. This lead to a television series, My Big Fat Greek Life, but apparently those who loved the movie failed to show up, at the show only lasted seven episodes. At that, one would have assumed that Vardalos was done with the character.
The reminder of the television show is important not just to chronicle the history of the characters, but to lay the groundwork for the overall feel of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. The first film wasn't exactly bristling with action and radical ideas. The sequel feels more like a television series reunion event than a major feature film which is a follow up to one of the most successful independent movies of all time. The tone and the writing, once again handled by Vardalos, often remains in second gear, never swinging for the fences. To say that the film is middle of the road would be an understatement.
But, that's not to say that it isn't without its charms. Vardalos clearly knows her core audience (most likely middle-aged women) and she has crafted this material for them. The movie touches on relatable issues like potential empty nest syndrome and caring for aging parents, and, to be honest, these plot-points are fairly generic and certainly buoy the film to a made-for-TV level of quality. It's the shenanigans of the family which are the film's selling point and there is where the laughs in this romantic-comedy are generated. Comedy vet Andrea Martin steals the shows as Toula's Aunt Voula, a woman who has no internal filter and doesn't hesitate speaking her mind, and she barely tops Mama-Yiayia (Bess Meisler), who, without saying a word, generates some of the biggest laughs in the movie. Again, this isn't a highbrow comedy, but Vardalos works in some clever lines which show that some thought is going on here.
The bottom line is that My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is exactly what you would think it would be. The movie brings back the characters from the first film, introduces some fairly pedestrian plotlines, and follows them to a very predictable conclusion. There are a few sexual references, but otherwise, it's good wholesome fun. The movie is very female-centric and focuses on many topics and themes which would ring true with middle-aged women. In other words, Vardalos is giving her audience exactly what she wants. The movie does contain some funny moments and it will certainly appeal to those who loved the first movie. Those expecting a thrill-ride need not apply.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 actually contains a Greek version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 36 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fantastic, as the movie is filled with bright tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture shows an impressive amount of detail and the depth looks fine. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. We get about what you would expect from a movie like this with the audio presentation. The dialogue and music sound fine and never compete. Crowd scenes provide subtle stereo and surround effects -- enough to be noticeable, but nothing overpowering. I didn't detect any striking subwoofer effects, save for the bass in the music.
The My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Blu-ray Disc contains three extra features. "My Big Fat Greek Dinner" (15 minutes) has Vardalos, Corbett, Louis Mandylor, and Joey Fatone sitting in the diner set talking about their memories from the first film and sharing feelings about the sequel. They are eventually joined by Kazan, Constantine and Vardalos' husband. "Making the Greekquel" (12 minutes) is a fairly standard featurette which offers comments from the cast and crew concerning the story, characters, and production. The piece also features on-set footage, showing the actors at work. The final extra is a 4-minute GAG REEL.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long