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IT'S GREEK TO ME...
on 28 September 2003
This is a warmly funny, down to earth, one note comedy in which I was somewhat disappointed. The reality of it simply did not live up to its media hype. Still, I found this fairly formulaic, romantic comedy to be enjoyable, light-hearted fare to be taken at face value.
The film centers around Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), who comes from a fiercely ethno-centric, clannish, Greek family whose Greekness is the end-all, be-all of their lives. Toula is an over thirty, plain Jane, who lives at home with her overly protective mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan) and father, Gus (Michael Constantine), as well as her brother, Nick (Louis Mandylor). She works in her family's coffee shop where she seems to be sleep-walking through life. One day a handsome man, Ian Miller (John Corbett), enters the coffee shop with a friend, and she is smitten. Shortly thereafter, Toula embarks on a life changing course.
She takes college courses. She undergoes a complete physical makeover, from the way she dresses to the way she carries herself. She even changes jobs, working at her aunt's travel agency. There, she chances to see her dream man again. They meet. They date. They fall in love. She does all this behind her family's back, as Ian is not Greek. He is, of all things, a non-Greek. When her family finds out, all hell breaks loose, as her parents parade a host of Greek losers for Toula in hopes that she will not break with tradition.
Needless to say, Toula and Ian stick together despite family opposition, hers and his. His family findds her family appalling. Her family finds his family strait-laced and humorless. Never the twain shall meet. Still, the marriage will go on, and Toula's family completely commandeers the wedding, as they will have it done no other way than their way, that is to say, the Greek way. There are many funny, priceless moments throughout the film. Gus, the father, is particularly funny with his belief that all words are of Greek origin and his belief that a spritz of Windex will cure anything. Maria, the mother, also has her zany moments.
Nia Vardalos, who is Greek, wrote the script, and she is right on the money. Living in New York, I have had many Greek friends over the years, and many Greeks of the older generation are as ethno-centric as those portrayed in the movie. There was a ring of truth in many of the jokes that hit home. As an actress, however, she leaves a lot to be desired. I found her totally unappealing and wooden in the role of Toula.
The film is an over-hyped, cute, one note comedy that will not prevail over time. The film was recently put to the test when, un the United States, it became a sit-com of the same name with the original movie cast, with the exception of John Corbett (who had his own television series "Lucky"). Needless, to say, the sit-com did not last out the season. One note comedies rarely do. Still, this film is worth a rental.