Once upon a time a little Indie film that wasn’t anticipated to live up to its name did that and then some. Its preemptive arrival was of a quiet sort only if you look inside, and you found a big and very entertaining story about vibrant and fun characters. Fourteen years later, everyone is remembering this 2002 film that told a story of family, food and finding love.  

Being 30 for Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) means to her father's old-fashioned thinking, she’s now “old” and past a marriageable age. As a child in a large Greek family, Toula endured her classmates thinking her strange without ever making any real friends. As adults, her sister is now married with two children and is, by her father’s standards, a success. Her brother, Nick (Louis Mandylor), is also unmarried, looking from some leeway and approval from their father but without the added pressure Toula bares. Instead, every day she engages in the same routine living under her parent’s roof, and working in their family restaurant. And then something changes.  

FILM REVIEW | My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016)

Eventually Toula begins to enjoy a sense of freedom when she talks her father into letting her take night classes at the local college. This then leads to her being allowed to work at her aunt’s travel agency, and then she meets Ian (John Corbett). A schoolteacher, Ian is funny, kind and everything Toula could wish for. There’s only one (very big) flaw in her otherwise perfect life: Ian is not Greek. 

Who else remembers this quirky romantic-comedy? I missed seeing this one when it was “cool” but then what else is new!? (She asks sarcastically.) It would be many years later before I’d finally find a copy in one of those “bargain buy” displays and would actually pick up a copy. Since that inaugural viewing, I do believe I’ve only seen this once more when, a couple of weeks ago, my mother and I decided a re-watch was in order. That came about as a result of planning to go see its sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in theaters this past week. 

As I said above, to this day, this is still one of the greatest (romcom) box office and Indie hits of the modern era. It took a simple idea and, with the producing talents and help of Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, turned it into something memorable, a staying power unusual to romantic-comedies that has lasted these past fourteen years. The one bit of magic that My Big Fat Greek Wedding captures is the sense of family the script expresses. There’s a relatable, charming value in the story because it shows family in all of its messy and beautiful forms. 

Likely another reason this has stood apart is the cast who, while talented, aren’t the norm the ordinary romantic-comedy headlines. Nia and John have a great chemistry as they take steps to deepen their courtship. The supporting cast of characters too is memorable and fun to hang out with for 90-some minutes as they busily and noisily butt into Toula’s life. Often their shenanigans are as humorous as they are realistic in their depiction (albeit clearly exaggerated and silly to keep within its bubble of romcom bliss).

If you’re a fan of lighthearted romances, and you’ve yet to experience this one, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a must see.  Between the cute premise and genuine emotions the film impresses upon us, it's a classic despite the dated and campy sense of humor. The familial relationships are great fun, and of course then there's the swoon-y romance. That, for all of us romantics, will be enough said.

Content: There is some mild innuendoes about sex lives, mainly coming from Toula’s aunt who attempts to give Toula advice on intimacy; there’s one other scene that shows a couple in bed, sheets scattered about. The film is rated PG.