Here’s the deal: if you liked 2002’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll probably like 2016’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. However, if you weren’t in love with the original, you probably won’t find yourself enjoying this sequel.
I hate to admit it, but Wedding 2 just isn’t as good as the first movie. The jokes are stale; the characters haven’t really moved beyond their quasi-sitcom personalities. Everyone looks a little older, but nothing–including the Dancing Zorba neon sign that flashes over the family’s Greek restaurant–has changed.
Wedding 2 makes the surprise decision to focus mainly on the characters of Gus Portokalos (essayed by a droll Michael Constantine) and Paris, the teenage daughter of the last movie’s married couple. In a sincere performance by newcomer Elena Kampouris, Paris is the emotional center of Big Fat Wedding 2. Constantine and Kampouris give, far and away, the best performances in Wedding 2, and also lend to it a great deal of its emotional heft.
But, the movie is talky and stagey, what with the the extended Portokalos family popping up here, there and everywhere. At a volleyball game; at the restaurant; at the NYU college dorm: the “we’re a big Greek family and we do everything and go everywhere together” gag wears thin pretty quickly.
I was surprised to see so many returning cast members from the original movie–even the great-grandmother is the same actor. YiaYia is silent in the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but here she gets one line–advising the young Kampouris to leave Chicago (actually, as in the original, Toronto) and go away to college in NYC. It’s one of those emotionally touching scenes, which, along with a sequence set at a high-school prom, are few and far between.
In the best of movie sequels, the characters grow and change and are different than when we first met them. Mostly nothing has changed in the fourteen years between 1 and 2, and that’s to the detriment of these charismatic actors, their characters and ultimately, our enjoyment of the movie.
My rating: 2 out of 4 slices of baklava.