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Creed II

It's all about the importance of character and the ability to face life's challenges. —Matt Anderson (review...)

Creed II

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 will very likely land this year’s not-so-coveted Dubious Achievement Award for the Most Jokes Landing with a Thud in a Comedy.

It’s All Greek to Me


Nia Vardalos’ Big Fat Greek saga started more than 20 years ago. It was tychi. That’s a Greek word. It means “luck.” Rita Wilson attended a performance of Vardalos’ one-woman show and the rest was moira. That’s a Greek word. It means “fate.”

Vardalos has partnered with Wilson and her hubby, Tom Hanks, on all three Big Fat Greek movies and even a short-lived Big Fat Greek TV series. Plus, Vardalos co-wrote Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks, who in turn co-starred with Julia Roberts.

That’s arketa. Another Greek word. It means “enough.”

Vardalos earned an Oscar nomination for her original My Big Fat Greek Wedding screenplay back in 2003. It’s baffling to try to put that in perspective with this third installment, which plays out like a series of moments and ideas looking for a reason to exist. And maybe – just maybe – it’s solely Vardalos’ fault, who once again plays Toula, the lead character. She also directs this chapter – only her second feature at the helm – following the long-forgotten I Hate Valentine’s Day from back in 2009.

As the extended Greek family of characters are brought back to the screen, the opening jokes fall flat. But maybe it just needs time to find its groove.

No such tychi. The jokes rarely hit the mark and one of the few “nice” bits involves a comment that stepping onto the Greek island of Corfu feels like going back in time. That statement’s made while a farmer on a horse is seen pulling out an iPad from his pouch and monitoring his farm’s activity with a sleek GUI screen. That’s a Geek term. It means “Graphical User Interface.”

Dancing Zorba’s

Sure, it’s nice to go to Greece and visit Corfu in a movie that’s essentially CGI-free (even so, this slight 91-minute movie is padded with 7 minutes of end credits).

The scenery. The food.

But then there’s all the bumper-sticker wisdom.

As MBFGW3 unfolds, it starts to feel like a stale leftover from Eat Pray Love.

Here’s the digest edition:

  • “A Greek man retires a week after his death.”
  • “Secrets are a waste of time.”
  • “Live your truth.”
  • “Take a vacation.”
  • “In this life, be open about what you want.”

There was also a life-lesson about “You have to get there with your own sweat.” Or something like that. After sweating this one out for 90 minutes, the notes became indecipherable.

Paris in Greece

Nia Vardalos
Nia Vardalos

There’s an interesting back story to the making of this movie, with Vardalos losing her real-life father in 2020, followed by the 2021 death of Michael Constantine, who played the family patriarch, Gus. The two losses dovetailed into a revised screenplay centering around returning to Greece with the father and grappling with thoughts on immigration. It should all serve as the catalyst for something profound, something touching universal emotions and sentiments.

As it stands, the story involves fulfilling a dying wish from Gus. He wants the family to take his big fat journal back to Greece and deliver it his lifelong buddies.

That summary sounds good. But Vardalos’ screenplay misses so many marks, it’s pretty trelos. That’s Greek for “crazy.” It’s like the classic warning from film school: just because a story is personal to you doesn’t mean the rest of the world is going to find it interesting or care. You need to broaden the appeal and the situations need to feel real.

There are several different story threads here, most of which just drop into the tzatziki.

For one, there’s what should be an emotional thread around the matriarch, Maria (Lainie Kazan), dealing with dementia. The humor is awkward; the drama is limp.

Possibly the strangest (by degrees) element involves Toula spotting a man spying on the family. He’s seen hiding in the bushes, for Pete’s sake, but she’s not freaked out. Her comments focus on how there was a really handsome man watching the family. Hiding in a bush is not the least bit creepy, eh? Because he’s handsome? And it’s not the least bit strange she practically drools over the guy in front of her husband even as the stranger reveals he’s Peter (Alexis Georgoulis), Toula’s brother from another mother.

What about Toula’s daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris)? She’s flunked her first year at NYU and a little stressed. And there’s the sorta boyfriend, Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), who’s supposed to be a nerd while doing or saying absolutely nothing nerdy. Within moments, Paris shifts from needing to focus on pulling her life together and studying – and agreeing to text Aristotle – to a big ol’ wet make-out session and finishing the movie with the two holding hands.

Sigh.

Victory in Corfu

If only those were all the lowlights.

After arriving in Athens, the family can’t stop at the Olympic stadium because they don’t want to miss their boat. They can’t stop at the Acropolis because they don’t want to miss their boat. But they can, inexplicably, stop at the sea, run out – fully clothed – for a quick swim, then buy fresh clothes and still make their boat ride to papa’s island.

Okay.

The family guide is Victory (Melina Kotselou), who rather oddly (in a not quite funny joke) won her Corfu village mayoral seat in a landslide election of one total vote. After Victory finally gets the family on the island and to a house with one big living room, they run into the village banshee, Alexandra (Anthi Andreopoulou). She has a humorously intimidating presence that punches up the otherwise hollow cast. Between Alexandra and Victory, there should’ve been a whole new lifeline in this series, but as with so many elements in this movie, it doesn’t pan out that way.

After all this, there’s still one more empty romantic thread. It involves a Syrian refugee – or immigrant – named Qamar (Stephanie Nur), who’s in love with Peter’s son. Neither Peter nor his mother are thrilled Qamar wants to marry his (Greek) son. That’s in one scene. Virtually in the next, Peter hugs the couple, Alexandra gives her blessing and then there’s – yes – another big fat wedding. But it’s a Greek-Syrian wedding this time, in which Greek and Syrian traditions blend all thanks to a whole bunch of Greek characters – and one Syrian girl.

Novel ideas run throughout MBFGW3. Novel ideas, but poor execution.

Sopa. As we all learn in MBFGW3, that’s a Greek word. It means “shut up.”