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  Film Reviews: My Big Fat Greek Wedding: It’s Not Just the Contakis Family  

Monday, October 21
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: It’s Not Just the Contakis Family
I am very late to this film. Yeah, yeah, biggest independent film ever. Feel-good romantic comedy of the year. Sweet story that is character-driven and not a big bunch of lies propagated by the waifish divas of the screen that find the rest of normal women desperate to figure out what’s wrong with them romantically. I have excuses – I’ve been busy, I just bought a new house, I’ve got to finish studying for my GMATs, I spent last week watching “The Transporter,” I was still scarred by seeing “Serving Sara.”

Before I start in, I must express my concern about the good thing that has happened to this film. See, we have the phrase “Independent Film” being associated with a box office take in excess of 100 million dollars. This may just well usher in what has happened in music. Where once alternative music meant buying a 5-song EP by a struggling band begging any air time they could get, we now have bands like Creed and Nickleback clinging to that same alternative label. I can see a time in Hollywood where “Independent Film” will simply mean “I convinced Julia Roberts to wear no makeup, work for scale plus a piece of the box office – did I mention that I optioned the script for 10 bucks from a destitute junky and had my teenage daughter punch it up with some current lingo?”

Anyway, what we have in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is a simple love story about two people who come from different backgrounds. And while the Greek heritage provides the title and much of the hilarity in the film, it is really a film for anyone that’s felt as if they were the strange one in a relationship. Back on soapbox – this is the point of the character-driven story. (This fact will escape big studios who are already rushing forward to produce “My Grande Quebequios Wedding” starring Tori Spelling and Ryan Phillipe.)

Anyway, what we have is the story of Toula played by Nia Vardalos (who also wrote the film), a woman we find that is convinced her identity is doomed to be wrapped up in her family. Her partner is Ian Miller, a man struggling to form an identity because his family had none. Between the two of them, there is the ying and yang that meet to form that perfect balance of individualism and family identity that a couple needs to have any sense of individualism. (Really, this all makes sense.)

Toula’s family makes for great comedy. And one might assume that these were far-fetched tales of Greek families that no longer exist. Ah, but you haven’t been to Easter dinner at the Contakis household. While the decor is much more tasteful, the mounds of food are there (including the lamb cooked on a spit), the noise is certainly there, the cousins are there, and the urge to hug everyone in sight run rampant. It is a must-go-to if you’re ever invited! Alas, Tony is already married, and his son Jimmy is already promised to another…perhaps there is room for adoption…

Of course, though, this is a film about the simple truth in any romantic relationship. That it is inevitable that the one person you’ve chosen to love will eventually meet that family that you’ve had to love. The great fear is that our family is as crazy as we believe and that our chosen love will run screaming from the room. When they don’t run, we then realize that the scary part is just beginning. It’s exactly the way that it really is, even if you’re not Greek.

See, even I can get sappy once in a while.

The Usual:

What It’s Worth: Get yourself out to the movies now! And for goodness sake, this is a date flick – wander over to the coffee shop to share cake afterwards.

Annoying Theater Goer: Okay, many people are seeing this movie again. This I know because the people behind us kept telling their neighbors exactly what was going to happen in the next scene. Glad I didn’t have this movie ruined by pleasant surprises or anything.

Main Reason To See This Film: It’s a real love story that doesn’t involve some wholly contrived plot where the woman ends up with the short end of the stick by the time the credits roll.

Main Reason Not To See This Film: You have an unnatural phobia that centers largely on turquoise bridesmaid dresses and big hair.

MPAA Rating: PG

Nudity: No.

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