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Third time a big fat charm?

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WORLD Radio - Third time a big fat charm?

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 sets the table for a compelling story but fails to deliver


From left, Elena Kampouris, Elias Kacavas, Andrea Martin, Nia Vardalos, Louis Mandylor and John Corbett in a scene from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3" Associated Press/Photo by Yannis Drakoulidis/Focus Features

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Friday, September 8th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: we’re invited to a wedding. Another big fat Greek wedding.

EICHER: That’s right. More than 20 years after the original movie proved to be a sleeper hit, the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise is back with its third installment. And this time, the Portokalos family is heading to Greece. Here’s arts and media editor Collin Garbarino.

COLLIN GARBARINO: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 debuts in theaters this weekend, continuing the ups and downs of the quirky, boisterous Portokalos family. In the first movie, 30-year-old Toula Portokalos, the daughter of Greek immigrants, falls in love with the very non-Greek Ian Miller, much to Toula’s father’s dismay. The second movie is a comic look at how parents from different cultural backgrounds raise a teenager.

Most of the original cast is back in their familiar roles, with the exception of Michael Constantine who died in 2021. He played Gus, the beloved patriarch who solved the world’s problems with Windex.

Nia Vardalos who stars as Toula also writes the scripts. She explains the inspiration for this third movie.

VARDALOS: The original story was going to be, of course, that we go with Michael Constantine’s character back to his village because that’s all my dad ever wanted was for us to visit his village.

After Constantine’s death, Vardalos rewrote the script, making Gus’ absence the film’s emotional core.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 begins with Toula and the rest of the Portokalos family finishing a rough year. Gus has recently died, and his widow Maria suffers from dementia, sometimes forgetting her own children. Toula and her husband Ian need a break from the stress.

The Portokaloses receive an invitation to attend a reunion in the Greek village where Gus grew up. And Toula and Ian think this might be the vacation they need.

TOULA: We’re going to Greece.

IAN: Oh, yeah!

Accompanying them for the reunion are Toula’s brother Nick, Aunt Voula, and daughter Paris. Somehow the handsome young Aristotle, 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. Village life has changed for the worse since Gus left Greece. The mayor is a hip twenty-something woman named Victory who dreams of turning things around, but she 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 anyone sleeping around. But the film contains some talk about “alternative lifestyles,” and alcohol is freely consumed.

PARIS: I have never seen my mom drink anything more than communion wine.

ARISTOTLE: They were thirsty.

TOULA AND VOULA: Whee!

The movie also contains scenes of partial nudity played for laughs. At one point, the family stumbles upon a nude beach 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, with 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 more than six other people, most of whom haven’t left the country before, will recognize some moments of truth within the jokes.

VOULA: Who wants souvlaki?

NICK: Paging Souvlaki. Anybody by the name of Souvlaki on this flight?

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.

TOULA: I promised my dad we would find his best friends.

VICTORY: I know them!

TOULA: Do they still live here?

VICTORY: No.

TOULA: How do we find them?

VICTORY: They will come for the reunion!

TOULA: Did they tell you they’re coming?

VICTORY: No.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 has many endearing and amusing scenes, but acknowledging the absence of Michael Constantine doesn’t make up for the hole he left behind. The original movie’s magic was due in large part to him.

The first film had plenty of zany gags, 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 feel that love threatens group identity.

This movie had some promise. It seemed positioned to tackle how second- and third-generation Americans relate to the family’s homeland.

ALEXANDRA: Pick the one we have for dinner.

IAN: Oh, thank you. Uh. I’m a vegetarian.

ALEXANDRA: No.

But the story never really congeals. 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 feels like a spoof of itself.

I’m Collin Garbarino.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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