‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3’ Is All Sunshine and Hugs, and Mostly Forgettable
The saga of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) and her large and lively Greek family continues in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” the sequel to the beloved sleeper hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and the less memorable “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.” This latest film, the first in the trilogy to be directed by writer and star Vardalos, follows Toula, her husband, Ian Miller (John Corbett), and several members of their family as they make the pilgrimage to Greece to explore their roots.
Sadly, Michael Constantine, the gifted character actor who played Portokalos patriarch Gus, died in 2021. Bruce Gray, the actor who portrayed Ian’s dad Rodney, also passed away since the last film, as did Vardalos’ own father, and she incorporates her real-life grief into the story here. The film opens not long after Gus’ passing, and Toula’s mother Maria (Lainie Kazan) now appears to be in the early stages of dementia. As Gus never had the opportunity to return to Greece after he immigrated to Chicago with Maria, and it was his dying wish for his children to see the village where he grew up, Toula books a trip to travel out there along with Ian, their college student daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), Toula’s brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), and elderly aunts Voula (Andrea Martin) and Freida (Maria Vacratsis).
Also joining the trip is Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), Voula’s milquetoast “assistant” that she is trying to push on Paris. Apparently, the two young people went on one date before she ghosted him. Although her mom has learned to give her space, Paris finds herself dealing with a lot of the same issues that she did in the last film, namely her desire to break away from the family and do her own thing. Unfortunately, going all the way to NYU did not turn out to be all she dreamed it would be.
Toula’s main objective in coming to Greece is to return Gus’ diary to three of his childhood friends. It is a noble endeavor, but turns out to be merely a plot device, as the viewer never learns much about the contents of the journal, nor does the film dig all that deep into Gus’ past. Instead, it is overstuffed with other half-baked subplots. The trip is supposed to center around a reunion for all those who have lived in this rustic village, which now has a population of six, but it turns out that Victory (Melina Kotselou), the exuberant young non-binary mayor and Portokalos family distant cousin, has only received Toula’s RSVP.
The best parts of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3,” beside the beautiful scenery, include Martin’s funny one-liners and quips as the infamous over-sharer Voula. Gia Carides and Joey Fatone also bring the laughs as Voula’s fun-loving adult children Nikki and Angelo, even if they are not really used until the third act. The film also does a decent job in continuing to explore the struggles of being a first-generation American. In one memorable scene, after it looks like she may not locate Gus’ friends, Toula laments that she cannot pay her father back for the sacrifices he made as an immigrant parent. Ian gently reminds her that she was a dutiful daughter to him during his lifetime.
One of the reasons the original “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was such a wild success was its against-all-odds love story. It centered around a somewhat outcast woman who defied tradition and her family’s expectations in her quest for true love and a happy ending. Unfortunately, there is no such conflict in this latest film for the viewer to get invested in. Soon after arriving in Greece, Toula and her family meet Alexandra (Anthi Andreopoulou), an old flame of Gus’ who has a big secret, but this matter is resolved pretty quickly. She and her son, Peter (Alexis Georgoulis), disapprove when they find out about Peter’s son Christos’ (Giannis Vasilottos) secret relationship with Syrian immigrant Qamar (Stephanie Nur), but they are convinced to let it go almost immediately. The film culminates with another cross-cultural marriage, but it is hard for the audience to care, as the surface is barely scratched when it comes to these new characters. At least the wedding and celebrations, as is most of the film, are pretty to look at.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3” releases Sept. 8 in theaters nationwide.