By Ellie Kruglikov
After a 14-year wait, fans of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” finally get to see what happens after the happy ending…only to be greeted by another big white wedding in the aptly named “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” This film features the returning cast, along with a few new characters.
The first installment left us with the newly-married Toula and Ian, happily situated with a young daughter in the home next door to her parents, Maria and Gus. In this newer film, we are again introduced to Toula’s crazy Greek family, as well as the development it has gone through over the years.
Toula’s brothers are now married, and she and her husband are having anxiety about their daughter, Paris, a high school senior, leaving for college. All is going as planned. However, while attempting to prove his relation to Alexander the Great, Gus discovers that his marriage license lacks the priest’s signature, making it invalid.
This realization draws shock and horror from many members of the family, which is summed up in a comment by Toula’s aunt, Voula, who tells Paris that “Your grandparents have been living in sin.” However, to Gus, Maria is insufficiently bothered, saying that they are married anyway by “time served.”
The situation takes a turn when Maria suggests that she is not ready to be married to Gus, and that he needs to propose for real this time, since she has always been bothered by his first unromantic proposal. Though a simple request, Gus is too stubborn to give in to Maria, so the situation remains stagnant, and the attention shifts to other members of the family.
Toula and Ian, while happy in their relationship, have little time for each other, and Voula, as the self-appointed wise person of the family, is happy to interject herself into the relationship which she sees as being in desperate need of help. She sets them up on a date, and encourages them to avoid talking about Paris, and focus on their relationship. Of course, this proves to be an impossible task, but Voula’s efforts are nonetheless successful, until their romance is interrupted, as it always is, by the family.
Eventually, after an embarrassing trip to the emergency room for Gus, Maria agrees to get married, and the preparations for her wedding begin, in a montage frequented by Toula’s grandmother, Yiayia, appearing under tables, in wedding dresses, and always accompanied by plentiful Greek food. The wedding preparations help to bring the whole family together, including Gus’s brother, Panos, who visits from Greece after many years of sibling rivalry.
In the midst of the family’s struggles to compose the wedding in time, Paris is facing her own struggle at school, with prom right around the corner. She works up the nerve to ask a boy to prom, only to discover, to her delight, that he, too, is Greek.
All conflicts conclude in one night with the wedding, prompting a declaration of love between both Toula and Ian and Maria and Gus. At the after-party, Paris brings her prom date, and Toula brings along a manufactured letter confirming to Gus his relation to Alexander the Great. The film concludes with Paris being dropped off at NYU, and the family finally saying goodbye.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” in many ways is a over-the-top parody of its predecessor. While in the original the absurdness of Toula’s overly-involved family is inserted subtly and spontaneously into the film, this new movie practically makes a caricature of the family, with scenes of Greek mobs invading the college fair at Paris’s school, the cake shop, and the church.
This movie is also very inclusive of the social themes of our times, with the family showing acceptance towards a relative who turns out to be gay, and Maria’s acceptance of her and Gus having been unmarried for all this time. Though I found both of these additions slightly forced and unnecessary in terms of plot, they helped to show that both the family and Hollywood is keeping up with the times.
While I appreciate that this film has more than just one plot point, it does seem too busy at times. One scene quickly switches from Paris’s school life to wedding preparations to Toula and Ian at home, sometimes making it difficult to follow and leading to less developed individual plots.
However, while the plot points may lack development at times, the focus on individuals leads to significantly more character development. In the first installment, there is a greater focus on the family as a whole, and while we see some personal struggle with Maria and Gus, as well as an obvious focus and Toula and Ian, other members of the family, especially Voula and Yiayia, are largely glossed over. In “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”, however, smaller characters get bigger roles, leading to a more developed picture of the family as a whole.
Despite some flaws, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” remains a sweet, funny, feel-good movie. The plot is busy at times, and certainly a little bit over the top, but it is still very much worth watching, and perfect for everybody’s crazy family.