Since 2002 and the premiere of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, people all over the world have been in love with the Portokalos family. It all began with Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her unexpected marriage to a non-Greek man, Ian Miller (John Corbett), and has come full circle to a family reunion in Greece in Vardalos’ new film, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3.
Drawing on her own family’s experience of losing her real father in 2020 and then the passing of Michael Constantine who played her father Gus in the first two movies, Vardalos, who writes, directs and produces, has penned a story honoring both men. To keep Constantine’s memory alive in this third installment, Vardalos creates the premise that, before he died, Gus received an invitation for the entire Portokalos family to attend a reunion on the island of Corfu.
It was his dying wish that Toula and the rest make the trip and take along the journal he had kept so she could pass it on to the friends he grew up with. Victory (Melina Kotselou), the young mayor of his small hometown, is organizing the reunion, but is having difficulty locating others who have also moved away. That task falls to cousins Nikki (Gia Carides) and Angelo (Joey Fatone), who scour the other islands in search of Gus’ long-lost friends.
In the meantime, Toula, Ian, their daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), Toula’s brother, Nick (Louis Mandylor), Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin), Aunt Freida (Maria Vacratsis) and a young Greek man, Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), spend time in Gus’ village taking in the splendor of the island and uncovering a shocking family secret. But what would these movies be without a wedding?
One of the subplots of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 focuses on the immigration issues facing most countries around the world with Greece being no exception. Many Syrians have made their way to the gorgeous islands of Greece and Vardalos has included a beautiful Syrian woman, Qamar (Stephanie Nur), who has fallen in love with a Greek man --- a relationship forbidden by his family.
On paper, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, though Vardalos’ premise is solid --- and should be charming --- the truth is a different story. Vardalos is responsible for writing the screenplays for all three films in the series. The original was great --- and very funny. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 and now this offering are decidedly less amusing. Neither David nor I laughed out loud once while watching this movie.
The scenery once they hit Greece is astonishing. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the writing is trite and, at times, a tad ridiculous. The running gag of Nick performing his hair trimming duties, i.e., nose, ears, feet, etc., at the communal table is just that --- gag inducing. An old, abandoned house suddenly turns into a desirable vacation home replete with crystal stemware and dinnerware.
The outside shower is cold water only producing the requisite screams from Nick and Ian when they bathe. But where do the women shower --- and how does everyone look so clean and fresh without indoor plumbing and a clothes steamer? Petty, I know, but it’s those details that drive me crazy.
But the most egregious fault of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 is its lack of humorous content. There is a great deal of silliness, but not much in the way of entertaining hilarity. And what little humor there is --- is showcased in the trailers. The completed script by Vardalos is all over the place, with sight gags that fail and the final reunion payoff which falls woefully short.
Fans of the franchise may love it. But for those of us who expect some semblance of a comedy, it’s hugely disappointing and a colossal waste of time.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!
Most sequels never achieve the heights of a successful original film. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 is the sequel to a sequel. Unfortunately, this third entry in the series is lackluster on almost every level.
There are virtually no laughs. There is little in the way of heartfelt emotion considering the mission conceived by writer/director Nia Vardalos. And some of the characters are simply unlikeable. On the plus side is the music and scenery of the Greek Islands.
When Toula (Vardalos) and her husband, Ian (John Corbett), arrive at the airport in Greece, they and their group of reunion attendees are greeted by a young Greek girl named Victory (Melina Kotselou). She is the self-proclaimed “mayor” of the small village where Toula’s father spent his youth. Note: the late Michael Constantine played her father Gus in the previous two films and MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 is dedicated to his memory. Victory, meanwhile, is totally annoying in all her cloying gleefulness.
Once at the village, the group meets an old woman named Alexandra (Anthi Andreopoulou). Everyone is terrified of her, and she harbors a few secrets to be revealed later. When she eventually exhibits humanity and some actual joy, it is too late. We don’t like her from the beginning and the poignancy that the film strives for is not realized. The same goes for the “big moment” when Toula gives over her father’s diary to his three old friends. It is totally anti-climactic.
Corbett’s talents are wasted as are those of Stephanie Nur. She plays Qamar, a Syrian woman in love with a young Greek man whose father objects to their engagement. If you are a fan of the superb “Lioness” on Paramount+, you know what a strong actress Nur can be. Andrea Martin returns as Aunt Voula. Martin’s persona is an acquired taste which I’m still working on.
A large part of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 involves Toula and Ian’s daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Her on-again-off-again relationship with Aristotle (Elias Kacavas) is highlighted, but there’s not enough happening here for the viewer to be emotionally invested.
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 is teeming with one-liners and sight gags that simply fall flat. Part of a successful comedy is the build-up to eventual jokes and situations, but that is not the case here.
Then there is Toula’s brother, Nick (Louis Mandylor), with a glowing, gleaming white smile and dyed black hair. Nick is somewhat likeable compared to other cast members, but is it really funny to watch him shave, cut his ear hair and clip his toenails? At the dinner table?
Alas, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 3 is just a shell of what the original fun movie was in 2002. Vardalos injects some ancient Greek traditions into her film --- like dancing --- but they seem like afterthoughts and not germane to the movie’s premise.
Opinion: Don’t Bother!