My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
MOVIE | Portokalos family follow-up fails to recapture magic of the original
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Opa! More than 20 years after the original movie proved to be a sleeper hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is back with its third installment. Nia Vardalos returns to the role of Toula Portokalos, the woman who turned her Greek American community upside down by marrying the white-bread Ian Miller, and much of the rest of the cast returns as well, with the notable exceptions of Michael Constantine and Bruce Gray, who played Toula and Ian’s fathers. They died in 2021 and 2017 respectively.
At the beginning of the film, Toula and the rest of the Portokalos family have been going through a rough year. They recently lost their beloved, quirky, Windex-loving patriarch Gus Portokalos, and Gus’ wife Maria (Lainie Kazan) suffers from dementia, sometimes forgetting her own children. Toula and her husband Ian (John Corbett) need a break from the stress.
When the Portokaloses receive an invitation to attend a reunion in Greece, Toula and Ian think this might be the vacation they need. Accompanying them for the reunion are Toula’s brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), her Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin), and her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris). Somehow the handsome young Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), whom Aunt Voula hopes to set up with Paris, also ends up tagging along.
The small Greek village where the Portokaloses hail from isn’t what any of these Greek Americans expected. Globalization has left this remote corner of Greece behind and exposed it to difficulties associated with immigration from the Middle East. The mayor is a hip 20-something woman named Victory (Melina Kotselou) who has big dreams but doesn’t have much to work with. Toula and the gang also discover relatives they never knew they had. And, of course, the movie culminates with a big fat Greek wedding.
This film is rated PG-13 for some suggestive material and nudity. The language is pretty clean, and we don’t see illicit affairs, but the film contains some talk about “alternative lifestyles.” The film also contains scenes of partial nudity played for laughs. In one such scene, the family stumbles upon a nude beach in Greece where strategically placed bags and drink containers save the PG-13 rating.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 shares the same madcap tone as previous installments. Vardalos doesn’t merely star in these films. She also writes the scripts, and for this third installment, she assumes directing duties for the first time.
The film has familiar scenes poking fun at what it’s like to live in a large close-knit family. Viewers who have had to navigate international travel with six or more people, most of whom haven’t left the country before, will recognize some moments of truth within the jokes. The movie strives for emotional depth as the family grapples with their late father’s legacy, while also worrying about how to love and support the next generation. Family with all its love and messiness remains the heart of this franchise.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 has many endearing and amusing scenes, but it fails to recapture the magic of the original movie. The first film had plenty of zany gags, like Gus’ belief that Windex could solve almost any problem, but it also had an overarching story that audiences instantly recognized as being part of the American experience. Sometimes individuals from different ethnic backgrounds fall in love, and sometimes families struggle with what that might mean for group identity.
At first, this movie seems positioned to tackle how second- and third-generation Americans relate to the family’s homeland, but the film quickly loses its focus. Vardalos strings together scenes, and while each might be amusing in its own way, they don’t support a larger narrative. The setup and storyline don’t have the ring of truth that the first movie had, and by the end, the Portokalos family becomes a spoof of itself.
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