My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 March 23, 2016 MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (USA/12A/94mins) Directed by Kirk Jones. Starring Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Rita Wilson, John Stamos, Michael Constantine. THE PLOT: With her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) off to college, Toula (Nia Vardalos) finds her parents more demanding than ever. When it is discovered, through her father’s desire to prove himself a descendant of Alexander the Great, that her parents were never legally married, it is up to Toula and the family to find a way to make a new Greek wedding happen. THE VERDICT: ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ was a sleeper hit when it was released 14 years ago, and this new film in the series – which also includes an unsuccessful TV show, ‘My Big Fat Greek’ Life – tries its best to be charming and sweet, but ends up relying heavily on clichés and jokes that don’t work. The cast of the first film have all returned for this new sequel, including Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Ian Gomez, Joey Fatone, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan and Andrea Martin. New cast members include Elena Kampouris, John Stamos, Rob Riggle and Rita Wilson, who also produced the film. Some cast members do better than others, but on the whole the performances are wooden, highly staged and self conscious. Screenwriter Nia Vardalos has tried to make lightning strike twice with this sequel to her Oscar nominated film, but this film feels much more cynical than the one that went before it. The jokes are filled with clichés, and there is only so much bickering between the family that the audience can take before it begins to grate. As well as this, the story doesn’t feel all that fresh – especially considering the first film – and the idea that those that move to America become more attached to their culture than the ones that stay home has been covered before, and much more subtly – stand up, ‘Brooklyn’! As well as this, the film feels like a series of jokes strung together, with ideas brought in and quickly dropped once the laugh has been squeezed from it. As director, Kirk Jones – whose last film was ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ in 2012 – keeps the film rattling at a decent pace, but ups the ante for the family scenes, making the film feel like a caricature of a Greek family, rather than the true observation of one. The jokes don’t land, characters are belittled and the warmth and charm of the first film simply is not there. In all, ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2’ is a film made for an incredibly specific audience, and one that does not work. Storylines are shoehorned in for the sake of drama, most of the performances are wooden and overdone, and the jokes simply do not work. RATING: 1/5 Review by Brogen Hayes My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Review by Brogen Hayes2016-03-231.0Doesn't work emerb Fourteen years after the original romantic comedy hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, the belated sequel hits our screens this week and for those not interested in Superman V Batman, this Nia Varalos – scripted movie should do very nicely indeed. If you enjoyed the first one, then you’re in for a real treat. Taking place ten years after the last instalment, family is the dominant theme again – and a very large family at that! We find our heroine Toula (Vardalos) and husband Ian (John Corbett), knowing what it is to be smothered by well-intentioned family, trying to deal with their perpetually angry 17-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Paris feels overwhelmed by her insanely huge and overbearing Greek family who are every bit as embarrassing as Toula always found her own parents. She is also dealing with typical teenage concerns, including her infatuation with shy classmate Bennett (Alex Wolff) and deciding where to go to college. She is contemplating going far away from her mother and her big fat Greek family in Chicago. They are loving but irritating, and are constantly interfering in her life. Even though this may give Toula the opportunity to rekindle the romance in her marriage, she isn’t ready to lose her little girl to the world and can’t help but now become the overbearing mother who, whether intentional or not, is smothering her daughter. And so to the wedding….the central plot concerns the revelation that, thanks to a priest having apparently forgotten to sign his name on their marriage certificate, Toula’s parents Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan) are not actually married. Gus immediately wants to rectify the problem, but Maria seizes the unexpected opportunity to re-evaluate her wedded life and consider her options. Stubborn Gus refuses to propose but when he gets sent to hospital (after a hilarious accident where he gets stuck naked in the bathtub) he realises life is too short and so cue the family wedding preparations…. The magic really comes from the cast, all of whom are back here including, among others, the brilliant Andrea Martin who remains the biggest scene stealer, reprising her hilarious role as the wisecracking Aunt Voula, Gia Carides and Joey Fantone as Toula’s cousins and Bess Meisler as the elderly family matriarch, who here gets a hilarious makeover. Newcomers include Mark Margolis as Gus’ brother who journeys from Greece to attend the wedding, Rita Wilson and John Stamos as a married couple who pop in once or twice. All of the performers give everything to their roles and manage to make all the characters utterly likeable, albeit desperately irritating. Admittedly, this film is not for everybody, the script is not particularly fresh or witty and veers on the saccharine. Critics were harsh on the original and I suspect the same may apply here. It’s not likely that this movie will bring Universal the massive $241 million earned by its predecessor but curiosity, word-of-mouth and a loyal fan base are likely to spark considerable interest. For me, it was sweet, charming and shows family life at its best – loving marriages but with their own issues, overbearing family members and the struggles of parenting. There are some very funny scenes such as when Toula and Ian decide to revive their spark by making out in their car outside the family home or Gus trying to get to grips with using Web-based ancestry archives to prove he’s a direct descendant of Alexander the Great. Somehow, the mix of humour, gags, situational and physical jokes and typical family squabbles mean that it all gels and works well for a feel-good night out at the movies. My advice is not to go in with huge expectations. As long as you’re happy to sit back, laugh and enjoy a few surprises, this will be right down your alley.