MyBigFatGreekWedding2coverGrade: C+/B-
Entire family: No, but darned close
2016, 94 min., Color
Universal
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 5.1
Bonus features: D
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD
Trailer
Amazon link

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is cute enough, but as with so many sequels there seems to be a play-it-safe mentality at work: Hit those referential touchstones that remind viewers of the first film, and rely on a familiar plot that feels like comfort food.

The math doesn’t quite work out, but 14 years after longhaired Anglo Ian (John Corbett) wooed shy and awkward Toula (Nia MyBigFatGreekWedding2screen1Vardalos) away from her you-must-marry-a-Greek family, the pair has a 17-year-old daughter named Paris (Elena Kampouris) who’s facing similar pressures. But that plot is as lukewarm as microwaved food, and it turns out to undercooked.

The main plot centers on the patriarch and owner of the Dancing Zorba Restaurant, where Toula now works. Gus (Michael Constantine) notices all these years later that his and wife Maria’s (Lainie Kazan) marriage certificate isn’t signed . . . meaning they’re not legally married. And the movie tracks the tension between them after they feel themselves suddenly “single.” So basically screenwriter Vardalos turned to a standard sitcom plot, rather than trusting that a new generational culture clash could shoulder the load again.

As a result, this much-awaited 2016 sequel isn’t as entertaining as the 2002 original, but it is, as I said, cute enough. For that, credit the characters that Vardalos created—characters based on her own life. The patriarch, Gus, still thinks of Windex as a panacea, still insists the Greeks invented pretty much everything, and still seems only to tolerate his MyBigFatGreekWedding2screen2non-Greek son-in-law at best. The closeness of the Portokalos family is both celebrated and gently ridiculed to the point where they become a collective character and running joke. They’re fun to watch. Are they also a bit much? Well, in all honesty, the overly familiar main plot wears on you more than they do. I mean, we’ve seen it before on TV shows like I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gilligan’s Island, Happy Days, Scrubs, and more recently Good Luck Charlie. That’s how familiar it is. And a second underdeveloped sideplot about the romance going out of Toula and Ian’s life doesn’t help much.

So you walk away from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 having been entertained by the characters and the competent screenplay, but thinking it could have had more laugh-out-loud moments and been more original. Such is life in Sequel Land. But you know what? Our family still liked it enough to put it on the shelf so we can watch it again some night.

Language: None at all
Sex: One brief aborted lovemaking session in a car
Violence: None—unless you call getting hit by a ball violent
Adult situations: Male genitals are referred to as “the plucky” and a teen is told to hurry and marry before her eggs dry up; drinking and one episode of drunkenness
Takeaway: Some PG-13 films could be rated R; this one could and maybe should have been PG, because it’s really pretty innocent

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