Sometimes a movie has its heart in the right place, and it's nowhere you want to be.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is like that, wheezing to please whoever's still alive and interested 14 years after the original.
Writer and star Nia Vardalos tried a lot of things since then, none nearly as successful as her broadly romantic caricature of growing up Greek, like a Mama's Family episode smothered in feta cheese. Vardalos genuinely seems like a nice person, making this uninspired retread an act of bless-her-heart desperation.
Fourteen years after marrying her Anglo hunk, Toula Portokalos (Vardalos) has a 17-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who under these Greco-centric circumstances really should be named something like Athens or Sparta. Paris is now what Toula was then, expected to marry one of her own, at the expense of her true self.
Toula is now in a movie rut slapped together for upcoming warmth. Marriage with Ian (John Corbett) is zipless. Paris may leave Chicago for college in New York. Toula's parents Gus and Maria (Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan) are higher maintenance than ever, especially when he discovers their marriage certificate wasn't signed 50 years ago by their priest.
But wait, there's more, possibly leftover from Vardalos' short-lived Portokalos sitcom. Gus wants to prove he's a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. Paris needs a prom date. Maria might wake up and smell the feminism. Gus gets stuck naked in a bathtub, injuring his hip, the only thing hip in a movie thinking Walk Like an Egyptian still gets teenagers hopping.
Of course, there's a wedding, carried off with tuxes and flowers borrowed from strained comedy sources. One Portokalos family member comes out of the closet, another appears to have challenged children, both topics sailed by.
When all else fails, as it often does, Vardalos and director Kirk Jones trot out decrepit Yiayia (Bess Meisler) for sight gags; reading a sex quiz, playing online poker, wearing a negligee. Or else they hand the movie on a platter to Andrea Martin, whose saucy Aunt Voula is every SCTV riff she did 40 years ago.
In 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was at least a unique cultural take on movie cliches typically reserved for Italian and Jewish squabbles and makeups. Now it's all stale baklava, made with love but past its prime. Opa? Nope-a.
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.