It’s a heavy time for the Portakalos family. After the death of their patriarch Gus (Michael Constantine,) the family is in low spirits, with Toula (Nia Vardalos) struggling to keep everyone together, especially as her mother Maria (Lainie Kazan) begins to deal with dementia and her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) struggles with balancing her college life. However, with her father’s last wish being to find his old friends in his hometown in Greece, will Toula find a way to strengthen her family’s bonds once again? What answers await them in the homeland? My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 stars Vardalos, John Corbett, Louis Mandylor, Kampouris, Gia Carides, Joey Fatone, Maria Vacratsis, Kazan, Andrea Martin, Elias Kacavas, Gerry Mendicino, Melina Kotselou, Anthi Andreopoulou, and Stephanie Nur. Vardalos is the writer and director, and Gold Circle Entertainment, Playtone, Artistic Films, and HBO Films are the producers, and Focus Features is the distributor.
Immigrant communities from Mediterranean countries and West Asia have long identified with the specific Greek experiences of the Portakalos family, and they’ll find plenty to identify with here. As the second and certainly better sequel of the original beloved classic, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 offers more original humor that draws from the same heart that the first did. Vardalos’ script has wit, particularly in the second half where the film starts to really engage in it story. Alas, for as many jokes that spur laughs, there are just as many that fall flat. The original film will always be the best one, but despite not reaching that level, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 still offers an enjoyable enough time as it puts the Portakalos in this different setting.
The visiting of the homeland is a unique and often special time for anyone in a diaspora, but can come with its challenges as well, particularly in not feeling “enough” of the ethnicity you’re from when present in the homeland. However, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 doesn’t delve much into that aspect, focusing mostly on the Portakalos clan having a pleasant time visiting, with the only potential discomfort being revelations they uncover about their family. There was potential here left untapped, but perhaps Vardalos felt that such exploration wasn’t necessary in this instance.
The ensemble cast are by and large good in their roles, with a few standouts, even while the story doesn’t give them a lot to do. Vardalos continues to bring seamless emotional depth to Toula as she deals with her family struggles and aims to fulfill her late father’s last wish. Unfortunately however, the latter problem is thin and repetitive in the script, with little forward momentum in the main body of the film. And that’s the main issue with Vardalos’ script overall: there’s no real sense of urgency as the various subplots fail to coalesce into something with stronger commentary. Despite that, the performances, beautiful Greek landscapes and ocean views, and comedic beats make for an otherwise engaging time.
Martin as Theia Voula remains a standout as she was in the original film, giving hilarious deadpan as she’s so confident that she knows what’s best for everyone in the family and ruthlessly interferes. This is particularly present in her interfering with her great-niece Paris’ love life with Aristotle (Elias Kacavas). While Corbett as Ian risks being a dud throughout most of the film, he does have a few moments to shine in dad mode. Louis Mandylor, while having some funny (and honestly disgusting) visual gags, has a few effective dramatic scenes as well. Andreopoulou as the seasoned and spry Alexandra is another standout as the jack-of-all-trades Victory (Melina Kotselou) welcome the Portakalos family to the small village. While Qamar (Stefanie Nur), a Syrian refugee character, is an overall great addition to the film and gives it very welcome Arab representation, along with a few lovely displays of Syrian culture, the script doesn’t go the full way to deliver more meaningful commentary with her inclusion.
Qamar is a refugee and Alexandra has brought her in, but it’s made clear that she’s not fully embraced, at least initially, because she’s not Greek and because she’s a “refugee,” when there should be nothing wrong with either, and especially the latter category. But don’t worry, Alexandra says, she’s not xenophobic at all! With the high rates of migration to Greece from Southwest Asian and North African (SWANA) countries and the increasingly draconian measures the Greek government has used to punish refugees and aid workers, this could have been a prime opportunity to address these issues, especially with the xenophobia already hinted. Unfortunately, the film decides not to pursue this course to the fullest.
Of course, this is a family-friendly comedy, so it won’t delve fully into this subject, but to only barely skirt the subject, especially when it is inherent in one of the few conflicts of the movie, shows how the movie missed out on having that bite to enhance its story. But My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 does still excel in its fluffiness, making audiences feel like they’re on the vacation to Greece with the Portakalos family. In many ways, the film does play as a travel ad to Greece, showcasing its lovely Mediterranean coasts, villages, food, music, and dance. In that, it is a visual delight, even if the story it tells is a bit thin.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is a pleasant move that emphasizes the importance of family and love, but without much story depth. Still, it makes for an entertaining watch for anyone who grew up with the original movie, and even for those who haven’t. While her script doesn’t provide its actors with enough to work with, Vardalos’ directorial vision and all her actors comedic and dramatic beats make for an engaging enough time at the theater. It’ll also likely make you want to book a trip to Greece yourself.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is out in theaters Friday, September 8th.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is a pleasant move that emphasizes the importance of family and love, but without much story depth.