My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3

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So, in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, the Portokalos Family finally make it to Greece! In other news, Nia Vardalos takes over directing duties as well as being writer, star and producer. But in most other respects this is a case of more of the same – nothing wrong with that.

To recap. The original movie about a Greek American woman scandalously marrying a non-Greek man was the word-of-mouth monster from 2002 that went on to become – choose your sources – the biggest grossing romantic comedy of all time (I don’t believe this either). Regardless, a big movie. And the 2016 sequel, though no one asked for it, was warmly funny and charming and justified itself even though it had a lot to do to silence critics who thought 14 years was too much of a gap.

It’s only been seven years between numbers two and three and we might have seen a different sort of film this time around if Michael Constantine (who played patriarch Gus in the first two) hadn’t died in 2021, aged 94 (they live to a good age, these Greeks), prompting Vardalos to rewrite her story around the death of Gus and the return of his extended family to his native Greece, to scatter his ashes and take part in a reunion in Gus’s old village.

There, Toula (Vardalos), husband Lan (John Corbett), brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), the double act of aunts Voula (Andrea Martin) and Frieda (Maria Vacratsis) are joined by Gia Carides and Joey Fatone as cousins Nikki and Angelo, plus most significantly for Paris, Elias Kacavas as old flame and possible new flame Aristotle.

It’s a big cast, and I haven’t mentioned the zeitgeist-aligned non-binary mayor of the small village, Victory (Melina Koselou), a Syrian refugee in the shape of Stephanie Nur’s Qamar and Anthi Andreopoulou as fierce village stalwart Alexandra.

There are more – more immediate family, more extended family, family Toula never knew she had, friends, relatives of friends, old friends of Gus who need to be tracked down. It’s boggling, and Vardalos struggles finding time and space enough to give all of them something to do. Toula and Lan’s story is now definitively parked, leaving Paris and Aristotle to take more of the spotlight in what starts to feel at times like Mamma Mia! without the Abba songs – romance in a sunny climate surrounded by warm, happy people who know how to have a good time.

The family pose for a photo
Meet the cast!

It is intensely good natured rather than hilarious, intensely nostalgic too, with Vardalos in her director’s hat making it look as gorgeous as possible – picturesque villages, dramatic landscapes, fiery sunsets and azure seas.

Aunt Voula (Martin) again gets all the best lines, though nothing quite compares to the “shave everything” dating advice of MBFGW2, with Aunts Frieda and Voula often doing Greek-chorus duty as explicators, commentators and waspish critics on the sidelines.

It should really have run out of steam by now but perhaps the secret of Vardalos’s success is that she roots her writing in reality. There is some grit. So, while all is essentially lovely, time has dealt its cards and Toula’s mother now has dementia. Her father is dead, of course. In Greece the quaint villages are mostly abandoned and refugees fleeing warzones are a feature of daily life.

The best gags are also the most “real” too, and are about how this family behaves – Aunt Voula’s advice, cousin Nick’s appalling grooming habits – especially when no outsider is watching. Family foibles are something almost everyone can recognise, Greek or otherwise.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 – Watch it/buy it at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2023

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