Wedding Belles

An animated display of the oddities and idiosyncrasies of a Greek family in America.

An animated display of the oddities and idiosyncrasies of a Greek family in America, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" uses the event of a wedding to introduce to the outsider, the language, the cuisine and the people that make up the race.

Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is an unattractive woman at thirty who hasn’t, in the tradition of her Greek family, managed to marry and raise good Greek kids. Her father Gus (Michael Constantine) hangs the Greek flag on the roof of their house, a miniature model of the Parthenon, replete with statues of gods on the lawn. As if that was not enough, his kids are raised in the Greek tradition where procreation and protein are the primary Ps of life.

But Toula makes a mild breakthrough when she urges her father to allow her to take computer classes, and, consequently, a job at the travel agency of an aunt. She now catches the eye of American Ian Miller (John Corbett) who woos, then wants to wed, her. She’s ecstatic, though the idea of having to break the news to her Greek family almost makes her want to give up the idea. In yet another deviation, her boyfriend agrees to embrace the rituals and rites that initiate him into the community, a move that wins the family over and culminates in a big fat Greek wedding.

Conceptualized and written by Nia Vardalos herself, the film is a simple tale of a family whose quirks alone carry the film to a hit. With rich visual content, fed by the dance, dress and décor of a Greek household, the humour is accentuated by personal peculiarities awarded to each character (he father, Gus, believes that Windex, a window-cleaning solvent, is a miracle aid that can cure any human ailment). But below the Elysian exterior of a closely-knit family and the fellowship it expresses, the film gently eases out the dilemmas faced by foreign kids raised in nonconformist America. The score - cheerful instrumental Greek music - gives the film an upbeat cadence and the dialogue is rife with innocuous humour. Weddings hardly get any better.

This article was first published on 02 Jan 2003.