Making the Grades
The wedding is long over, but Nia Vardalos is returning to her Greek roots in My Life In Ruins where she plays Georgia, a laid-off, ancient history professor turned frustrated tour guide in Athens. Dealing with busload after busload of terrifying tourists, it doesn’t help that she is left with the most difficult clients (namely Americans), thanks to her conniving co-worker Nico (Alistair McGowan), who makes sure all the easy pickings (namely Canadians) go with him. Rounding out her problems is an uncommunicative and unkempt driver with the strange nickname of Poupi (Alexis Georgoulis).
Once everyone is on the bus, the multi-day journey begins with Georgia using her academic talents to try and educate her apathetic crowd about basic Greek history. Among the assorted passengers on the overheated coach, is a representative of the top ten stereotyped travelers. These divergent personalities range from the nice little old lady (Sheila Bernette) who’s a kleptomaniac; the stuck-up Dr. Tullen (Caroline Goodall), her henpecked husband (Ian Ogilvy) and their misunderstood teenaged daughter (Sophie Stuckey); Marc (Brian Palermo) an IHOP manager and finally Irv (Richard Dreyfuss), an elderly man who is determined to be the funny guy.
With the miles passing by and the sun getting hotter, everyone becomes more impatient with Georgia’s educational take on the scenery and instead yearns to shop for baubles, eat ice cream and hit the beach just like Nico’s tour group is doing. (The audience, at this point, can’t help but wonder why these people went to Greece in the first place!) With the threat of mutiny on her hands, Georgia is forced to learn what this script is trying to pound into her brain: She must regain her kefi (the Greek term for mojo) and to do that she’s got to relax and have sex. (She admits it’s been a while since she has done either.)
No one should be surprised that both of these goals will be reached by the time the trip ends. While we don’t see any intimate details on the screen, there is frequent chatter about hetero and homosexual relationships and characters are shown in pre- and post-sexual situations. A scene of heavy drinking, a punch to the face and a few mild profanities round out the reasons parents may not want to bring younger kids along for the sightseeing (although it’s unlikely they will be interested in this story engineered for the 30-plus crowd).
Sadly, Vardalos still hasn’t managed to recreate the charm she stumbled upon in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The comedy, editing and overall execution of this film is, at best, clumsy and the big, fat cast of eccentric, stereotyped characters doesn’t help either. However, while “traditional” critics will no doubt take pleasure on making word plays with this movie’s title in reference to Vardalos’s future, for fans of this Canadian/American with Hellenistic heritage, My Life In Ruins may still prove to be a pleasant diversion.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about My Life in Ruins.
Georgia is frustrated by the Greek lifestyle, because they don’t have a "life plan" and they take everything so lightly. They, in turn, believe life just happens, and that she takes things too seriously. Do you agree with either philosophy? What do you feel is the perfect balance?
For Georgia, Greece is all about history. For the tourists in her group, it appears to be all about ice cream. What do you look for in a holiday experience?