I arrived at the movie theater in Fresh Meadows, Queens on opening night of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 the way anyone should—full of buffalo shrimp from the Hooters next door and stoned out of my mind.
My friends and I chose this theater because it has reservable reclining seats—a luxury that I don’t think I’ll be able to come back from, now that I’ve experienced it. To further increase our enjoyment of Nia Vardalos’ sequel of the 2002 sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we began our evening by hot-boxing in the parking lot. While I regret a lot of things in my life, this is not one of them.
MBFGW2 picks up about a decade and a half after MBFGW1 (which, for the record, is a film I barely remember when stone sober). Toula (Vardalos) and Ian (John Corbett) now have an angsty teenage daughter who’s about to leave for college and, much like her mother, has a complicated relationship with her overwhelming Greek family. With their focus on parenting, the romance between Toula and Ian has stalled—something we the audience only know because they keep saying stuff like “Our focus has been on parenting” and “Our romance has stalled.”
You know the old storytelling adage “show, don’t tell”? Well, MBFGW2 takes it and smashes it to the ground, much like a plate at a Greek wedding. Corbett—who’s neither cut his hair nor grown an upper lip since the first film—enters every room with a line that equates to “It is me, John Corbett. I am here now.” Nia Vardalos—who, granted, has a very natural and easy charm—spends most the movie lovingly rolling her eyes and smiling begrudgingly at her family’s kooky antics.
Despite my shaky memory of the first installment and despite being absorbed in the box of Butterfinger Bites that I initially said I wanted none of (a lie), I can tell that most of the jokes in MBFGW2 are callbacks—a rehashing of sorts to remind the audience that these are the same lovable Portokalos that we’ve probably failed to keep in our hearts over the past 14 years.
I am being dismissive, but you know what? The Fresh Meadows audience was really feeling MBFGW2. And you know what else? I was, too. I couldn’t quite say what I was laughing at or why it was funny, but I can tell you that I laughed a lot. Remember Mana-Yiayia, Toula’s ancient grandmother who doesn’t speak a word but who speaks NOVELS with her physical comedy? I don’t, but—yeah—she’s back and I laughed every single time she did something that could be described as “funny” or “old.” There’s also a great (?) montage where Tula teaches her dad to use a computer and he doesn’t understand any of the words because, again, old. That had me rolling—or it would have, if I wasn’t already fully lying down in a suede recliner.
What was great about this particular showing was how the audience members (full house, by the way) were even willing to laugh at jokes they didn’t get. When the men of the family arrived at the titular Big Fat Greek Wedding (a small spoiler: the film revolves around Toula’s parents renewing their vows because of a ~mystery~ reason) sporting blazers bedazzled with the word “Funkateers,” a man behind us guffawed, “HA, FUNKLETTERS!” Funkletters, indeed, my dude. Funkletters, indeed.
Now that I’ve crawled out of my marijuana-soaked lizard brain, I feel pretty certain that, objectively, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was a very bad movie. It’s emotionally hollow and constantly reminded me, both in plot and in dialogue, of a very bad play. A coming out scene is given a jolting 15 seconds of focus before the film moves onto something equally arbitrary and weightless in feelings. The women of the film (including the treasured Andrea Martin) all weigh in on an extended “joke” about the benefits of marital rape. Joey Fatone is back because... I don’t know.
But crawling back into my marijuana-soaked lizard brain (a much better place to be), I’ll also say that the movie is great? For one thing, it’s very short—a factor more movies should consider. For another, they say the word “Greek” a total of 18,457,036 times (I counted) and make EVERY utterance worth it. Also, Joey Fatone is back because... I don’t know! Then of course there’s all the Mana-Yiayia jokes—worth the price of admission alone.
Would I recommend that you see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2? I don’t know—do you have a luxury theater nearby? Do you care not for story, comedy, or your own time? Are you high right now? Say yes to all of these and my answer is still only “IDKIDKIDK.”
Image via Universal Studios.