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Joel Zwick
Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone
Writing Credits:
Nia Vardalos

Love is here to stay... so is her family.
Box Office:
Budget $5 million.
Opening weekend $597,362 on 108 screens.
Domestic gross $230.876 million.
Rated PG for sensuality and language.

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Standard 1.33:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Surround
English, French, Spanish, Greek

Runtime: 95 min.
Price: $27.95
Release Date: 2/11/2003

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Actor Nia Vardalos, Actor John Corbett, and Director Joel Zwick
• Cast Bios

Score soundtrack

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Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 5, 2003)

Move over Halloween and Blair Witch Project - thereís a new sleeper champion in town! Although 2002ís My Big Fat Greek Wedding didnít enjoy a budget quite as low as either of those horror flicks, it proved to be the highest grossing indie movie of all-time. In fact, it topped Blair Witch - the second biggest moneymaker among independent flicks Ė by a whopping $90 million.

Greek earned almost all of its money through word of mouth. People Ė mostly women Ė saw it and loved it, and it all turned into one of those ďand they told two friendsĒ shampoo commercials. A few million friends later, Greek ended up with $230 million, which came to $225 million more than its budget.

Iíll go on the record and say that I donít get it. At best, Greek offered a moderately amusing experience, but unfortunately, it almost never achieved its best. For the most part, Greek seemed inane and boring.

In Greek, we meet the Portokalos family, headed by father Gus (Michael Constantine) and mother Maria (Lainie Kazan). Totally obsessed with his heritage, Gus can find a Greek root for any word, and bizarrely, he uses Windex to cure all skin ailments. Gus and Maria have three kids: eldest daughter Athena, youngest son Niko, and middle child Toula. We see a little of their childhoods and watch the roots of the pressure Gus and others put on Toula to get married and have kids.

When we jump ahead and meet Toula (Nia Vardalos) as a 30-year-old, she still experiences the same pressures. Actually, theyíve intensified as she ages, and the fact that Athena (Stavroula Logothettis) got wed young and began to pop out babies didnít help. Younger Niko (Louis Mandylor) doesnít get the same pressure because heís male; Gus thinks he still has plenty of time, whereas Toulaís past her ďexpiration dateĒ.

Plain, pudgy and unattractive, things donít look good for Toula, and she seems stuck inside her shell. However, one day Mr. Right enters the family diner where she works. Ian Miller (John Corbett) doesnít really interact with Toula, but she clearly feels smitten with him. However, nothing comes from this, though Toula soon decides she needs to expand past her constrictive routine. She signs up for computer classes to do travel agent work, and she eventually signs on with her Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin). She also starts to come out of her shell and present herself in a more appealing manner.

On the job, Ian happens to see her through the storefront window, and the pair quickly strike up a relationship. Due to Ianís non-Greek roots, Toula tries to keep this a secret from her family, but given the huge extended nature of the clan, this becomes impossible, and friction ensues. Gus gets angry and attempts to force other men on her. However, Toula and Ian seem to be made for each other, so the rest of the movie follows their plans for a wedding and the execution of that event.

As a 35-year-old male, maybe I shouldnít have been the one to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding. After all, I donít seem to be its target audience, as it appears tailor-made for women, particularly of the middle-aged variety. Actually, Iíll narrow that further, as I think Greek appeals mostly to the kind of women who love Touched By an Angel and who collect Hummel figurines. It seems almost absurdly cutesy and sappy, and for the life of me, I canít fathom what anyone sees in this overdone tripe.

A limp fairy tale, I suppose I should accept Greek as a fantasy. With its cartoon characters and inane dialogue, one canít try to view it as reality. However, Greek never takes the appropriate steps to distance itself from the real world, so weíre forced to take it in that vein.

This causes some problems, particularly in regard to Ian, who comes across as some form of perfect man. Not only is Corbett very handsome, but Ian offers the ultimate sensitive male. He gave up a prospective law career to help kids as a teacher, and he also totally accepts her family and culture and never says a peep despite all of the pressures placed on him. He loves Toula unconditionally, but the movie never makes it very clear what he thinks seems so appealing about her.

Vardalosí broad performance doesnít help. If we accept her as Ianís dream girl, this occurs because of conditioning. Weíve seen so many stories with the ugly duckling who blossoms into the swan that whenever weíre confronted with someone unattractive and unpopular, we simply assume that there must be more beneath the surface.

Unfortunately, I donít see anything particularly substantial about Toula. She displays no particular wit or charm, and though she becomes prettier as she emerges from her shell, she never turns into a raving beauty. Weíre supposed to believe that Ian felt attracted to her from minute one back in the diner, and this seems absurd. Not only did she look horrible at that point, but also she failed to demonstrate any spark or personality. Greek just wants us to accept his deep affection for Toula without any particular reason to do so.

If the film offered anything else of substance, I might more easily accept that proposition, but the rest of Greek remains lackluster. It presents all the characters as broad and caricatured, and they never elevate above those levels. The participants donít seem charmingly goofy; they just come across as obnoxious and trashy, at least in the case of Toulaís extended family. Gus appears selfish and mean-spirited in the way he treats his daughter, and the others just appear idiotic and crude. When even the great Andrea Martin canít make her character come to life, then I know the projectís beyond hope.

Sometimes when I watch a movie, I like it more as I think about it. With every passing moment, I more intensely dislike My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I could continue to ramble more about its flaws Ė letís not forget absurd dialogue like ďItís useless to dream, because nothing ever changes!Ē Ė but Iíll stop now. Audiences loved this flick, and more power to them; even when I disagree, I donít begrudge anyone their pleasure. Suffice it to say that I donít get its appeal, though, as I think Greek provides a boring and uninvolving piece of work.

The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio C+ / Bonus C+

My Big Fat Greek Wedding appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 and in a fullscreen version on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the widescreen image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the letterboxed picture was reviewed for this DVD. Although the image demonstrated its low budget origins, it generally provided a satisfactory presentation.

Sharpness seemed adequate. On occasion, wide shots came across as a little soft and fuzzy, but the movie mostly appeared solid. The image usually displayed reasonably crisp and concise information. Jagged edges and moirť effects created no concerns, but I did notice some light edge enhancement at times. In regard to print issues, grain seemed a little heavier than expected, and I also discerned some grit and specks at times.

Greek utilized a naturalistic palette, and the DVD reproduced those tones well. The colors consistently came across as nicely accurate and precise. The hues demonstrated no issues related to bleeding, noise or other concerns, as they looked vivid and distinct. Black levels were reasonably deep and rich, but shadow detail seemed somewhat murky at times. For instance, the candlelight dinner sequence appeared a bit flat and lackluster. Again, the filmís modest budget accounted for some of these issues, and Greek mostly offered a positive image.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it offered a subdued experienced. The soundfield displayed a very heavy emphasis on the forward channels. Music showed decent stereo imaging, but otherwise, the mix offered very little beyond general ambience. Different settings showed acceptable environmental information but that was about it. Surround usage stayed in the same realm. Frankly, very little came from this soundfield, but it seemed acceptable for this material.

Audio quality came across as decent. Speech seemed reasonably natural and distinct. I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Music was a bit dense at times. The score showed little low-end information and clarity sounded somewhat thin. Effects also demonstrated some lackluster tones. They came across as acceptably distinct but lacked much life or vibrancy. Again, bass response was fairly modest. Overall, the audio of Greek was acceptable for this sort of film but it never rose above that level.

Despite the enormous success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the DVD includes only a small roster of extras. The main attraction is an audio commentary from writer/actor Nia Vardalos, actor John Corbett, and director Joel Zwick. Vardalos and Corbett clearly sat together for this running, screen-specific piece, but it sounds like Zwick recorded his remarks separately and they were edited into the others. The DVDís producers tried to offer the impression that the different parties responded to each other, but it appeared obvious that this didnít occur.

The men provided only occasional information during this commentary. Zwick periodically made a remark about his efforts, and Corbett included some notes about his character, but those two didnít give us much material. Vardalos dominated the piece, which made sense since it was her baby from the start. While she gave us some tidbits about her involvement in the film, she mainly told us about how the characters and events connected to her real life experiences. The commentary sagged at times, but for the most part, Vardalos maintained a good sense of energy and she helped make this a fairly interesting and informative track

Otherwise, the DVD only provides Cast Bios for Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Michael Constantine, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone, Gia Carides, and Louis Mandylor. These feature short but decent listings. No other supplements show up on the DVD, as it doesnít even include a trailer. Given the movieís huge level of popularity, the absence of substantial extras seems odd.

Audiences will disagree with me, but virtually nothing about My Big Fat Greek Wedding appealed to me. This comedy fails to deliver a single laugh, and it turns sappy and drippy at the drop of a hat. Add to that flat, cartoony performances and an inane script and you end up with a weak experience. The DVD offers acceptable but unexceptional picture and sound plus only one substantial extra.

If you fall into the legion of folks who adore Greek, Iím sure youíll feel content with this DVD, as it seems to replicate the original material well; it could use more supplements, but it still comes across as a decent package. Otherwise, maybe rent Greek if youíre curious to find out what all the fuss is about, but I certainly canít recommend it to anyone who doesnít already love it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.074 Stars Number of Votes: 54
6 3:
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