Synopsis: A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.
Director: Joel Zwick
Writer: Nia Vardalos
Stars: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett and Michael Constantine
Serious Jest: (Don’t Bother) I watched this movie because more than one friend told me it was pretty good…then, too late, I remembered that all of those friends were female. To be fair, the film is endearing, it’s sometimes funny, and Vardalos has a Tina Fey-like quality about her–which I find attractive, although I’d much rather date Fey…especially if she’s dressed up like Sarah Palin…and if she wasn’t married…but I digress…. Also, Lainie Kazan is convincing as the eccentric, confident, loving, encouraging mother (although significantly more tame than in her You Don’t Mess with the Zohan role). Plus, my good friend and Fraternity brother married a Greek woman (who he met while stationed in Greece; they had a Greek Orthodox wedding and everything!), and it was pretty cool seeing the movie reference the Greek cultural points that she taught me, like the toasts.
On the other hand, this movie unfortunately follows that way-to-common formula of: ethnic girl who is embarrassed of her wild-and-crazy stereotypical family is swept off her feet by polite white boy from also-stereotypically uptight, rich family, and fireworks fly as the two families drive each other crazy while the couple struggles to ensure that their love prevails. In that sense, the film is not very creative: plug Greek stereotypes, language, sayings, and architecture into a Romeo-and-Juliet story, and you’ve got a movie that a bunch of Greeks (or people who are interested in Greek culture) will go see, because they’re under-represented in movies, but then half of them will realize, too late, that the film is potentially reinforcing some dangerous stereotypes (granted, Vardalos wrote the screenplay, but stereotypes perpetuated by members of the same group aren’t necessarily less dangerous).
In any case, cynicism aside, this movie is a cutesy romantic comedy…definitely a chick flick. If you are a woman who likes that sort of movie, you may enjoy this one, and it may be worth your time to sit down and watch it (although I wouldn’t call it a must-see…maybe unless you’re Greek, too). If you’re a dude, pass on this one if you have a choice, but it’s not exactly torture if you’re forced to watch it, either.