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MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
Review by Michael Jacobson
Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Michael Constantine, Andrea
Martin, Joey Fatone
Director: Joel Zwick
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: HBO Video
Features: Audio Commentary, Cast Bios
Length: 95 Minutes
Release Date: February 11, 2003
on my wedding night, my mother, she said to me, ‘Greek women, we may be lambs
in the kitchen, but we are tigers in the bedroom!’”
let that be the end of your story.”
about the little film that could! When
My Big Fat Greek Wedding first came out, it only appeared in a small
number of theatres. It was a
modestly budgeted independent film with very little advertising, and seemingly
very little to lose.
some people came. And those people
told their friends about it, and they came as well.
Then those friends told other friends.
The movie started opening in more and more theatres and just kept running
and running. Like the characters in
the film, the movie itself seemed destined for some kind of crazy, bewildering
happy ending. And it got one.
It was a top ten movie for 2002, grossing over $200 million at the
domestic box office, and officially becoming both the most profitable indie film
AND the most successful romantic comedy ever.
bad for a picture that sprung from the mind of its plucky star as a one woman
play! Nia Vardalos turned her
boisterous family, her traditions and heritage, and yes, her big fat wedding,
into comedic fodder first for stage audiences and then for the big screen.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is her debut screenplay, and it’s as
charming, sweet, funny and personal as can be.
plays Toula, a mousy Greek American woman who, at the beginning of the film, is
living under the curse of being 30 and unmarried. Her family is an absolute scream, beginning with her father
Gus (Constantine), who proudly traces any word (even Japanese ones) back to a
Greek origin and believes anything can be cured with Windex, to her wonderful
mother Maria (Kazan), always ready with some forward advice, to her nagging aunt
(Martin) with her funny sharp tongue. That’s
not even mentioning her bickering cousins or her grandmother, who still sleeps
with a knife under her pillow because she’s convinced the Greeks are still
fighting the Turks!
everyone in the family has Toula on the mind.
They want to see her married. Toula
only wants to go to school and make something of herself.
Returning to college leads to her growing self confidence and blossoming,
just in time to meet the man of her dreams, Ian (Corbett).
He’s romantic, kind, funny, and handsome…the two fall very quickly
and very deeply in love. And
they’d live happily ever after, except for one little detail.
He’s not Greek…and that’s a VERY big family she has.
gonna look at me and decide I’m not worth it,” she worries, as Ian is given
a crash course in Greekdom by her family. But
this is not a movie that goes the conventional conflict route.
There really is never any question about will they or won’t they go
through with it, which I think makes it more romantic than most movies by leaps
and bounds. This is a picture where
we simply enjoy the company of some very colorful characters while identifying
with Ian as he learns his fiancée’s family ways, and with Toula as she finds
herself pulled in all directions by a family for whom she feels both love and
is a sweet natured picture that simply hits all the right notes.
The story in the movie is appealing, but not half as impressive as the
behind-the-scenes story: actress Rita Wilson, herself of Greek heritage, saw and loved
Nia’s play so much that she convinced her husband, Tom Hanks, that it should
be a movie. Their clout as
producers helped get a movie made that frankly, given the simplicity of its
subject matter and the fact that it revels in foreign customs, probably never
would have been touched by the studios. As
Nia has since claimed, getting the film made was a miracle in and of itself, but
achieving the kind of success it did? That
was more than any of them could have ever dreamed.
names of Hanks and Wilson may have gotten the movie some attention, but it
succeeds purely on the strength of Ms. Vardalos. Her heart and humor permeate both her script and her
performance. These people are
larger than life, but she sees through the pomp and tradition and finds the
humanity in all of them. She loves
these people very much…it’s no wonder we end up loving them, too.
is a strikingly good anamorphic presentation from HBO (full frame version also
included). For a low budgeted film,
the cinematography was quite keen throughout:
colors are rich, plentiful and beautiful, and images are clean, crisp,
and exhibiting remarkable detail in both short and long shots.
Low lit scenes play just as beautifully as brighter ones, with no
interfering grain or compression and a very clean print to boot.
A terrific effort.
film is mostly dialogue oriented, so the 5.1 soundtrack is serviceable, but
undemanding. The rear stage is used
extremely sparingly, only giving a touch of ambience to a crowd scene here and
there. The subwoofer remained
pretty much inactive throughout, but nothing in the audio really required extra
bottom end. No complaints
here…it’s simply unspectacular by nature.
features are light, but highlighted by a delightful commentary track with Nia
Vardalos, John Corbett and Joel Zwick. Ms.
Vardalos is an endless fountain of information, tying virtually everything we
see in the film to her real life…very sweet and funny stuff!
Also included are cast talent files.