Making the Grades
Gus Portokalos (Michael Constantine) believes Greek women have three jobs: Marry a Greek man, have Greek babies, and cook Greek food until the day they die.
With this attitude, it's no surprise his daughter Toula (Nia Vardalos) is 30 years old and still waiting tables in the family's restaurant (which serves Greek cuisine of course). Toula would love to get married, but her frumpy features reflect her feelings of worthlessness. Then one day, Ian Miller (John Corbett), a new customer shows up. Suddenly Toula has a reason to change her life.
Convincing her father to let her go back to school and upgrade her education, she decides to try a little harder with her appearance as well. After honing her computer skills, she lands a job in her aunt's travel agency (which specializes in Greek destinations) where she happens to meet Ian again - only this time he sees a woman with new self-confidence. Over the upcoming weeks, their romance quickly blooms, but one problem remains - Ian isn't Greek.
As if planning a wedding isn't hard enough, now the couple has to convince Toula's relations to accept her decision and cope with only-child Ian's parents' inability to socialize with three-dozen or so boisterous Greeks.
This movie is so naturally funny and engaging, it's difficult to remember you're watching on-screen performances. Toula's huge family is a strange lovable bunch of people you feel you already know. And, being an only child myself and having married into a large family of another religion, I can relate with the awkwardness and comedy as the "dry-as-toast" Miller's try to integrate with the gushy Portokalos.
Unfortunately, this perfect family movie is slightly marred by two non-explicit scenes of sexual relations prior to marriage. Parents may also be concerned by some mild profanities, frequent depictions of passionate kissing, and the interfaith relationship.
Yet, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is still a great tribute to marriage, working together as a family, and learning to love others in spite of differences. Originally a limited release, this film (like Ian) has slowly gained acceptance and is on its way to become one of the biggest movies of 2002.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
In what ways do the actors and actresses in this movie differ from many mainstream films? How do they contribute to the feel of the production?
Films often feature a frumpy actress who becomes beautiful. While Toula undergoes this process, how is it different from other movie scenarios? What did she choose to concentrate on first? What do we learn about Ian’s personality after he remembers seeing Toula at the restaurant?
Nia Vardalos, who plays Toula, wrote the script for this movie based on much of her own life story. Her husband plays Ian’s working colleague Mike, and many of her family from Winnipeg Manitoba Canada flew to Toronto to play extras in the film. No wonder it all seems so natural!