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The Scarlet & Black

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” fails to live up to original


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Emma Friedlander, Arts Editor

The early 2000s brought about a lot of objectively bad trends, like Auto-Tune and jeans without back pockets. However, it was also an objectively awesome time for movies. Even though I was only a toddler at the turn of the millennium, I maintain a fierce love for many of the 2000s cult classics: “Donnie Darko,” “Almost Famous,” “Zoolander” and, especially, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” I’ve often referred to “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” as one of those movies you can just watch over and over again. I watched it on VHS in my family’s living room, on DVD in my high school best friend’s basement and on my MacBook in my college dorm. The film is truly timeless. Fourteen years after its 2002 release, everyone’s still telling everyone else to “put some Windex on it,” the movie’s running joke.

Sequels are nothing new, especially sequels of beloved classics. However, they usually come out a couple of years after the original movie; recently, however, more and more casts have been reuniting decades later. And as much as I love the original movie, when I first saw trailers for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” earlier this year, my immediate thought was “Really? Why now?”

The premise of the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding is as such: Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), a bespectacled turtleneck-wearer (early 2000s movie code for: ugly, forever alone) feels worn down by her huge and boisterous Greek family, who are desperate for her to marry a nice Greek boy. Hilarity ensues when she instead falls for hunky all-American Ian Miller (John Corbett). The film remains the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. Its initial success was followed by an attempted TV spin-off in 2003, “My Big Fat Greek Life,” which was cancelled after only seven episodes. Over a decade later, however, somebody in the biz decided it was worth another shot.

In “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” Toula is once again bedecked in huge cable-knit sweaters and even huger glasses (read: disgusting, sad). Seventeen years later, she’s still married to Ian and their daughter, Paris, is about to go off to college. Moreover, Toula’s family is as overbearing as ever. Throughout the film, Toula must deal with aging parents, the lack of spark in her marriage, an angsty teenage daughter and the fact that even though it’s supposedly something like 2019 or 2020 in this near-future movie, her universe still oddly resembles 2002.

Okay, that last thing’s not an actual point of conflict. But even though the film makes blatant attempts to modernize itself with passing references to FaceTime and Zumba, it feels positively entrenched in the turn of the millennium.

Firstly, many of the film’s actors haven’t really been seen since 2002. Its notable originals, like 1990s TV star John Corbett and Joey Fatone of NSYNC (probably the most quintessentially millennial pop group), reek of gelled hair and chinos from the Gap. Even Toula and Ian’s 17-year-old daughter, Paris, is dressed like a gothic-grunge caricature straight out of “Clueless” or “10 Things I Hate About You.” It’s as if the filmmakers asked themselves “Uh, what are angsty teenagers like?” and could only answer, “They wear lots of eyeliner and chokers and whine ‘motherrrr’ a lot?” The result is basically a mirror image of quintessential circa-2002 Avril Lavigne. I’m into it, but Paris seems more at home at a grunge-themed costume party than a near-future Chicago high school. The soundtrack primarily features the Bangles and Greek-language covers of Billy Idol’s “White Wedding.” The characters mostly dress in combinations of beige and olive green. Toula complains that her travel agency was forced to close because of a bad economy — no, girl, your travel agency shut down because William Shatner’s Expedia commercials started haunting every television set in America.

Moreover, the biggest cameo in the movie is from John Stamos, i.e. the poster boy of the 1990s. John Stamos’ own throwback show, “Full House,” was revamped as “Fuller House” just this year and two decades too late. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” appears to be riding on a turn of the millennium nostalgia train along with this year’s “Fuller House,” “Zoolander 2” and “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” Perhaps this inability to update itself is intentional, riding off a general public desire to revel in our nostalgia of the early 2000s and throw money at Ben Stiller’s Blue Steel and the star cameo of a Windex bottle.

I wouldn’t recommend dishing out eight dollars to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” at the Strand this week. However, if the idea of 90 minutes spent reminiscing about the golden moments of pop culture of recent history sounds appealing, it’s certainly worth viewing on whatever online streaming service it premieres on in a year or so. After all, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” never set out to be a good movie. It set out to remind us of a movie we love and allow us to spend just another hour and a half in that universe — a universe filled with lamb eyeballs, lumps on necks that turn out to be long-lost twins and lots and lots of Windex.

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