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Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4
Chicago's "Second City" alumna Nia Vardalos has adapted her critically
acclaimed, autobiographical, one-woman show into a human comedy that strikes a
universal chord. As the story begins, Vardalos plays Toula, a frumpy 30 year-old
virgin, working in her father's Greek restaurant. "You better get married soon,"
he says. "You're looking old." Since childhood, her parents (Michael
Constantine, Lainie Kazan) have told her that Greek girls have just three duties
in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies and feed everyone. But it's not
that easy. Toula's a big, gawky Greek in a world of tiny, blond Barbies.
Realizing she's stuck in a rut, Toula enrolls in a computer class at a nearby
college. She also puts on some makeup, buys fashionable clothes, discovers
contact lenses and lands a job in her aunt's travel agency. Meanwhile, she's
caught the eye of a tall, handsome, WASP-y school teacher, Ian Miller (John
Corbett of TV's "Sex and the City"). He's a god, all right, but he's not Greek.
And that causes complications. Her proud, Zorba-like father considers any
non-Greek a "xenos," a foreigner, and - what's worse - Ian's a vegetarian. It's
the classic Pygmalion story with some ethnocentric culture clash tossed in, but
it works. Why? Because director Joel Zwick and the talented actors keep it very
specific and true, reminiscent of "Moonstruck," with lines like: "The family
will always be a big part of who you are, but don't let it limit who you
become." The Portokalos family may be boisterously Greek but they could also be
Italian, Irish, Hispanic or Jewish. Behind-the-scenes, this project was
propelled by producers Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, who swears the family
resembles her own. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "My Big Fat Greek
Wedding" is a gleeful, joyous 8. It's a delectable confection.
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger