Writing has ruined reading for me. When I read my own work, I’m poring over sentences as my own harshest critic, making sure everything works, from the big-picture structural stuff right down to the individual word choices. I have trouble suppressing that critical voice when I read for pleasure, so it takes a special book or film to silence it.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is not that film.
I’m torn. The film is brimming with heart. There are moments that reflect my life back at me, and I wanted desperately to like it, but it’s just so lazy. It feels like a collection of skits, loosely tied together by a thread of Mana-Yiayia sight gags. It’s a film of As and Zs, with nothing from B to Y that make arcs work. There’s a lot of treading water between the introduction of problems and plot points, and their resolutions, if they’re resolved at all.
The worst is the bait-and-switch of Gus (Michael Constantine) and his ailing health. In a voiceover with zero chill, we learn Toula (Nia Vardalos) struggles with caring for her ageing parents. The film then drops this entirely, after a half-arsed callback to the original’s famous Windex gag. Instead of following through on a plot that’s painstakingly established in the film’s opening minutes, Vardalos reduces it to the set up for a joke we’ve heard before, an easy laugh. But by that point, we’re thankful for some plot resolution, because the film has introduced 600 other mostly non-essential plot strands.
The film tries to do so much — Estranged brothers! College! Gay secrets! John Stamos and Rita Wilson! — that its main plot — Gus and Maria’s (Lainie Kazan) remarriage — falls over flat. Maria driving her wedding planner to quit is genuinely hilarious, but we don’t see its climax. We’re simply told it happened because the film is too busy showing something else. And then it has the nerve to spin “the wedding planner has quit!” into “the wedding is off!” and one does not equal the other.
I had a half-hour argument with Mum about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 this morning. She enjoyed it. She says I shouldn’t look at films with so critical an eye. They don’t have to be perfect. I’m not saying they do. I just really wish they’d try.
*I would define it working as it being the best I can make it, as the writer I am today.