Directed By Nia Vardalos
Starring – Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Elena Kampouris
The Plot – Join the Portokalos family as they travel to a family reunion in Greece for a heartwarming and hilarious trip full of love, twists and turns. Opa!
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material and some nudity
If anyone was yearning for a third installment to this sporadic franchise, their concerns give way to care, as Vardalos finally takes the directorial reigns in order to supplant the kind of irresistible family charm that innocently delights. This is vital for longtime enthusiasts of the franchise, as the family dynamic among its limitless members is the single most vital aspect of each of the three films, especially here where she imbeds urgency to importance in each of them stepping up, after the head of the family has unfortunately passed away. Despite the noticeable absence of the great Michael Constantine as Gus, their unity and pride is still as loudly persistent as ever, with an unshakeable chemistry that not only allows each of them to once more seamlessly step back into their respective roles, but also offer some of them the coveted opportunity to stand above the rest. This is obviously prominent in Vardalos, whose primary protagonist Toula is once more the ideal candidate for straight woman reactions that she sells with unfiltered humility and irritation, but beyond her, the expansion of Louis Mandylor brings the right kind of machismo in endless charisma, and when combined with the expansion of Kampouris proving her all as a leading lady in the making, with gentility and tenderness, rounds out an eclectic ensemble that are the very heart of this project. There’s also the brilliant decision to not only set a majority of this film in the homeland, but also actually filming on-location in Greece, which brings so much beauty, authenticity and cultural essence to the canvas of its presentation.
Unfortunately, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” is one big fat mess, as a disjointed screenplay and underwhelming material robs it of a good time, making this easily the weakest installment of the entire trilogy. On that script, Vardalos feels so overwhelmed between writing, directing and starring that she never settles down to a comfortable consistency of her storytelling, which constantly feels like a series of one-off scenes that never converge towards making one cohesive plot. This is realized all the more with a brief 86 minute run time, which on the surface keeps the urgency of the narrative maintained in a story that is constantly on the move, however its nagging persistence directly undercuts into materializing and unraveling of each and every respective subplot, leaving it difficult to even discern what exactly is the central conflict in this plot, especially since the wedding for this instance is thrown together with two characters whom we literally just met, only a half hour prior. Speaking of conflict, this film has none of it, or even crumbs of a dramatic influence, which wraps the whole thing in the bubble wrap of inconsequential that it solidifies how unnecessary this third installment truly was. Even in the other two films, there’s conflicts that occasionally distance and even distort the focus of family ideals, which makes for an even greater resolution, but here no such rocking of the boat takes shape, leaving us little freedom from the aforementioned spontaneity in developments that dull an occasion that I could never even remotely invest in. Adding further to this difficulty are the underwhelming technical components, but specifically the editing, which blunders visual continuity in the context of the scenes, while fumbling consistency with the majority of the interactions. This leads to scenes that are prematurely cut, while others hang on a bit longer after comedic deliveries, leaving these strange pocketed moments of silence that feel like they’re intentionally left for a TV laugh track. This transitions wonderfully into my issues with the comedy, which is marred by sitcom brands of humor so mindlessly repetitive and ineffective that I could often see the punchlines coming from miles away. To say that this film failed with a majority of its punchlines is putting it easy, so instead I will say that as a screenwriter Vardalos abandons the apex of her talents with schmaltzy dysfunctional family redundancy that never evolves or expands outside of its comfort zone, cementing an experience that feels like it’s given you everything that it has to offer by the film’s fifteen minute point of the run time.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” offers comfort soul food for longtime fans who only seek a disastrous family dynamic for entertainment, but very little else for those of us bloated by the ridicules of redundancy that have stretched one really good family comedy into a tumultuous trilogy. Though Vardalos’ first sit in the director’s chair wields a commanding canvas of on-site locations, as well as heart in humanity for her family refusing to be defined by untimely loss, the film is unfortunately burdened by weak humor, disjointedly rushed storytelling and dramatic-free conflict that keeps it from standing out among its superior predecessors, in turn abandoning Vardalos at the alter that she once helped build.
My Grade: 4/10 or D-