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Movies: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Halfway through my book on The Evils of Consumer Culture I got in the car, went to the mall, ate at Taco Time and watched America's #1 movie, an utterly predictable piece of formulaic Hollywood "feel good" entertainment that I nonetheless enjoyed quite a bit. Take that, you socialist hippies!

[Dear Mom: please don't read this paragraph, thanks. Love, Matt.] I've known I would wind up seeing My Big Fat Greek Wedding for some time, as I had long since picked it out as my current Mom Movie. Back before I learned the value of pre-selecting Mom Movies, my parents would sometimes propose a Movie Night, and my mother would inevitably suggest we see the romantic comedy du jour: Notting Hill or The Wedding Planner or whatever. This puts me in a ticklish position, as the only thing more painful that snubbing your own mother is actually sitting through Kate & Leopold. So one day I decided to get all proactive 'n shit. I started keeping a mental list of all the movies that I thought both my mother and I would enjoy -- or, rather, the films I was certain my mother would love and that I thought I could endure. And Greek Wedding has held the title of #1 Mom Movie ever since Ebert and The Other Guy, Mr. Roper Or Something, both gave it their ringing endorsement. So when the family went to the movies last weekend, Greek Wedding was a foregone conclusion.

Usually I don't like to discuss movie plots in my reviews since my abhorrence of spoilers borders on the pathological, but, honestly, if you have seen even one "romantic comedy" in this lifetime then you already know every key element My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Boy meets girl, girl feels inadequate, girl embarks on a campaign of self-improvement, boy meets girl again and is smitten, boy and girl decide to get hitched, and everything would be coming up roses were it not for that wacky, wacky Greek family! And yet -- somehow! -- you have this crazy suspicion that everything is going to turn out okay in the end. [**MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD!!**: you're right.]. In fact, as soon as you figure out what a character in the film Really Wants -- not what they say they want, mind you, but what they capital-R Really Want -- you know they will get it before the film is through. Dad says he wants his daughter to marry another Greek, but he Really just wants her to be happy; daughter says she wants to elope, but she Really wants to spend this special occasion with her family; and so on.

Yeah, I know -- I can hear your eyes rolling from here. So how could I -- a guy how insists he loves Mulholland Drive for it's nonlinear chronology and not just the hot girl-on-girl action -- possibly enjoy this? Simple: whereas most screenwriters would have lazily plugged some unremarkable dialogue into this generic framework and called it good, Nia Vardalos (writer and star of Greek Wedding) instead opted to pack this blazingly unoriginal storyline with barrels of genuinely witty banter and a even a couple of hilarious sight gags. Trust me: no one tried harder to dislike Greek Weddings than I, but after 40 minutes and my third belly-laugh I had to admit that I was liking it just fine.

It's no Memento, that's for sure. And even knowing what I know now I wouldn't have opted to see it without a a matriarch in tow. But it was about as good as a Romantic Comedy gets, and, frankly, more entertaining than whatever pretentious hunk of art-house crap I would have dragged the tribe to if the decision had been left to me. (Which is why the decision if never left to me -- not since Mulholland Drive, anyway.) Judged on it's own merits it gets maybe 3/5 stars, tops, but put a Mom in the seat next to you and My Big Fat Greek Wedding becomes a freakin' Citizen Kane.

P.s.: I saw this film with my Ma-In-Law, despite the fact that the Emergency Mom Movie is kept in reserve for my mother. When I spoke to Ma Baldwin a few moments ago and guility confessed that I had gone to see "Greek Wedding" without her, she replied "Oh that's okay, I've already seen it three times."

P.p.s. I am now taking nominations for my next "Mom Movie".

P.p.p.s. Anyone who suggests "Sweet Home Alabama" will be banned.

Posted on October 01, 2002 to Movies


I guess you won't be taking mom to see Secretary then, huh?
Signs was pretty good, it won't kill you, and mom might like the priest loses faith/priest regains faith pseudo plot.

Take her to see Notorious C.H.O.

Posted by: Bee on October 1, 2002 10:43 AM

I don't know, I was thinking about taking my mom to go see that movie "Auto Focus" about Bob Crane (star of Hogan's Heroes, sex-addict, got murdered). Or to the Brooklyn Underground Film Fest (http://www.brooklynunderground.org/) now that's real entertainment mom will love (mine at least)...

Posted by: rainzilla on October 1, 2002 10:47 AM

Moonlight Mile?

My mother would like it. I thought it was enh story, with some good acting thrown in the mix. Who is this Jake Gyllywillysillynhaal with his hangdog looks that keeps showing up as a leading man? Hasn't anyone realized that he is a character actor and that his character is Depressed Puppy Boy? Why are adult women fondling him? It's making me twitch.

Posted by: hillary on October 1, 2002 3:33 PM

Now that I've read this, I am almost willing to consider going to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding..
Oh wait, this isn't supposed to be about me.
How about the Banger Sisters?

Posted by: Jules on October 1, 2002 7:01 PM

Here's my method: Mom can pick any movie she likes
as long as she pays for it. Then, while you
are sitting through, say, Dr. Doolittle, and
you are tempted to think, "I am wasting 2
hours of my precious life", you can instead
think, "I am working off 2 hours of guilt and
SHE's paying for it!"

The last thing I saw with my mom was that one
with the Scottish guy from Drew Carey about
raising pot to save the old homestead.

Posted by: ranger on October 2, 2002 5:53 AM

What about Sweet Home Alabama?

Posted by: DD&B on February 3, 2003 10:19 AM

The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood or rent Bill and Ted's excellent adventure. Either one is fine.

Posted by: Name? ZWAH?! on September 12, 2003 2:52 PM