I decided to review the romantic comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. This is a sequel to My Big Fat Greek Wedding (obviously). The first film was released in 2002 and was about a Greek American woman named Toula who was pressured by her overbearing parents and family to get married to another Greek. But Toula fell in love with Ian, who was not Greek. The entire film was about the struggle to find love, get her parents to accept him while also coming to terms with her own heritage and identity.
According to some critics, the romantic comedy genre is “nothing more than picturesque museum pieces, exhaustion of plots based upon centrality and taken-for-grantedness of heterosexual desire,” (Alberti 159). I would have to agree that My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 qualifies. It is based around exhausted plots of heterosexuality and heterosexual marriage and taken-for-grantedness within those relationships.
The second film takes place 17 years later and brings back the entire original cast along with some new faces. Toula and Ian have a daughter named Paris and are trying to cope with her graduating high school while also trying to fix the issues they are having in their marriage. Toula’s parents find out that they were never officially married, so it is time for another big fat Greek wedding. The film definitely uses genre conventions like the theme of marriage and the fact that the story is told and focused on a woman’s point of view.
“The Neo-traditional turn likewise signaled a turn in the marketing and reception of the romantic comedy, as producers, critics, and the entertainment media began seeing these movies as primarily or even exclusively films for women, who may or may not drag reluctant men along with them,” (Alberti 161).
Both films are rooted in the importance of heterosexual marriage. Gus, the father, was constantly harping on Toula in the first film that she needed to get married and have babies because she was “looking old.” Gus did the same thing in this film, but to Paris, Toula’s daughter. Throughout the film, Gus is plotting to get Paris a good, Greek, husband because she is “looking old” (she is only 18 years old).
Even though Gus is very invested in the idea of heterosexual marriage, he doesn’t help out with the wedding at all, in fact before the wedding, he is getting drunk with his groomsmen and goofing off, completely not taking the wedding seriously, while Maria, of course is because she is a women. He is set up to be the typical not romantic husband who never actually proposed to Maria. When she finds out they aren’t married she wants Gus to ask her again, and be more romantic about it. She tells him she is not going to take care of him anymore until he re-proposes to her. Gus takes her care for granted. Obviously, he can’t function without her so he asks her to marry him again. Again with the taken-for-grantedness.
The pressure to plan the wedding and get married is always on the females in the film. There is a very stereotypical montage of the women in the family going dress shopping, meeting the wedding planner, picking out the cake and other wedding preparations. Where were the men. Doing something that had nothing to do with the wedding. Typical.
There are definitely viewpoints missing from the movie. The audience is white women between 30 and 70 years old. The film mainly portrays white men and white women, usually Greek, non-Greek and heterosexual (except for the cousin who comes out at the end of the film).
Even the homosexual cousin is a subplot that was kind of thrown in there and not discussed or developed. “When queer characters were depicted, they were usually regulated to minor plots…and by contrast reinforcing the central and socially appropriate nature of heterosexual love story,” (Benshoff 6).
This aspect of the film was a very minor and under developed subplot. We get introduced to the idea half way through the movie. He has constant pressure put on him, like the females, to find a wife, get married and have babies. His cousins wonder why he is not married yet. They see him with his business partner and how they seem to act like more than friends, which is why they assume he is homosexual.
At the end, his parents figured out that he is homosexual. They invite his partner to dance with them at the wedding and that is the end of that plot. It wasn’t very developed or realistic. The partners also do not show any signs of affection towards one another, which is what also makes me feel that they just thought they should appeal to a larger audience and include a same sex relationship but not pay too much attention to it because it wasn’t that important.The priest might have been a different ethnicity but we only saw him once. Other than that, there are no other ethnicities or sexualities represented in the film.
The AMC theatre that I went to was renovated about 5 years ago so it was fairly new. They installed new recliner seats and pop machines (which is probably why ticket prices increased so much). I have been going to this movie theatre all my life because it is only two minutes away from my house in Coon Rapids.
The ticket cost about $10.50 (this was before 5pm on a Saturday). I went with my sister and mother so all together, just our tickets were $33. Then we got drinks and popcorn, because that is what we always do when we go to the movies. Because of our rewards card, we got free size upgrades but our food cost around $17. All together we spend $50 to see the movie.
At the movies, there is that collective viewership that might cause you to laugh at things that you usually wouldn’t laugh at. I don’t think this was the case for me particularly. I would have acted the same if I would have watched the film in my home. Most of the reaction to the film was laughter but there might have been some tears during certain sentimental parts of the film. The only people who got up and left went to either go to the bathroom or get a refill on popcorn or their drink.
The audience who went to view the film in the theaters were definitely the target audience for this film. Everyone and there mother and grandmother were there. Literally. Including myself! Most of the time the main reaction was laughing because it is a romantic comedy. I could tell that the woman next to me had not seen the first film because she did not get a joke that she would have gotten if she had seen the first film.
All of these aspects set up the film to be just another replication of the stereotypical heterosexual, heteronormative, romantic comedy. Very original Hollywood.
Alberti, John (2013) “I Love You, Man”: Bromances, the Construction of
Masculinity, and the Continuing Evolution of the Romantic Comedy, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 30:2, 159-172
Benshoff, Harry M. Queer cinema: The film reader. Psychology Press, 2004