If you’re not a member of the Portokalos family, this movie might overwhelm you just as much as the clan frightens any outsiders throughout both movies. And if you never caught the first film, stop what you’re doing right now and watch it. You need a basis for all the Windex jokes, the Greek as the root for everything bits, the insane closeness, and size, of the family. And the fact that Gus, the aging father, has transferred his “marry a nice Greek boy” speech from mother to daughter, from original to sequel.
The sequel was a follow-up to 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the film that first introduced us to the loud Portokalos family and Ian, the unlikely non-Greek vegetarian groom for Toula, played by John Corbett.
In the first film, Toula, played by the film’s screenwriter Nia Vardalos, had gone against her father’s wishes by taking college classes. Fast forward to the sequel, in which Ian and Toula’s daughter Paris is applying to college. In that respect, the sequel presents the same general storyline updated to modernity. In the 2016 version, Paris is seventeen, applying to colleges, and feeling just as suffocated by the clan as Toula did in the original.
The whole family wants her to stay in the area by going to Northwestern, but she has her sights set on NYU. A concurrent storyline is that of Gus, who makes a frustrating attempt at using the internet to map his ancestry and prove his relation to Alexander the Great.
In this quest, yet another story is revealed: Gus and Maria were never officially married, and this supplies the wedding element needed to mimic the first movie.
Toula is again overwhelmed and feels the need to take the whole ordeal onto her plate. This in turn upsets Ian, who believes they need to work on their marriage and problems absent from the screen.
Anyway, the whole family joins in to plan the wedding, as of course someone just happens to know a guy with glittery, 1970s-esque tuxes (insert laugh here?).
All the same faces came back for the sequel, including YiaYia, Gus’ mother who hides under a table with *surprise* spanikopita, cousin Nikki, Ian’s best friend Mike, and a few new grandchildren who mimic Gus’ “Give me a word, any word, and I’ll show you that it comes from Greek” spiel.
In planning the wedding, it is revealed that Joey Fatone’s character Angelo is gay, with very little pomp or circumstance. Also, Paris misses the wedding to go to prom with Bennett, who *gasp* happens to be part Greek. Toula then invites the rude neighborhood moms to the wedding to pack in an overwrought happily ever after.
These are the same women that stood and criticized the family as Gus was wheeled into an ambulance after getting stuck in the bath. Yeah, that’s a scene that pokes fun at the frightening image of a naked old man, because if you couldn’t tell, Gus is old.
Oh, and can’t forget that Paris, the stereotypical angsty teen with too much eye makeup, ends up choosing to go to NYU, and everyone accepts it without attempts at coercion. And Toula and Ian get re-married, sort of, at her parents’ wedding that seemed to be inexplicably planned in a day. And Toula’s brother Nick’s only line seems to be “my nuts” at regular intervals, because what’s a movie without a penis joke.
Clearly, this was a very packed movie, even a bit over-packed if you ask me. While I am a huge fan of the first installment, even I was overwhelmed by the Portokalos clan in this film. The jokes about spanikopita and general Greekness brought a rush of nostalgia, but there was simply too much going on. Throw in some quips about keeping boys away from the “pulaki” as well Aunt Voula prompting Toula to seduce her own husband, and you have an hour and a half of excess.
That said, the movie’s tagline is unapologetic in its brimful content, simply stating: “Bigger. Greeker.” The first movie was equally as busy, so anything less would have been a let down to die hard fans. I couldn’t imagine not having the same level of blue and white or Greek pride in a sequel, especially because that pride produces horrified, hilarious expressions on various “Anglos” throughout the film.
The bottom line is this: if you’re looking for an intellectual, profound film, this is not it. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 doesn’t present anything that new or different, save for Angelo’s sexuality. While the over-stuffing meant that no storyline was as fleshed out as it could have been, they all worked together.
The Portokalos have a million and one things going on, and this is no different from any other family. The craziness, closeness, and Greekness all fit and flow and make for a film full of laughs. Those laughs are a bit stale, much like the ones generated from another recent spinoff, Fuller House, but if you have 94 minutes to kill, why not get a mini ab workout with some giggles. I mean, you could get a real ab workout at the gym, but I could just hear Gus saying, “the Greeks invented the ab workout!”
A New York college student just trying to figure out how to balance a social life, a 10 page paper, and a mild addiction to coffee.