My Big Fat Greek Wedding
**.8 GM
Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Gia Carides, Ian Gomez, Andrea Martin, Joey Fatone, Louis Mandylor, Bruce Gray, Michael Constantine

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So. This is the huge pop cultural phenomenon. A freakin' wedding movie. Oh, I can just imagine what a glorious romp awaits me! There will be misunderstandings! There will be mix-ups! There will be hijinks both zany and madcap! The clashing of cultures is chock-full of opportunities for wiseacre comments and joyous comedy! The trials and tribulations of people in love - what a universal goldmine from which to extract the precious - yet offbeat - wry little truisms of human existence! Let the gaiety begin!

The above was pretty much the mantra that went through my mind every time I thought about seeing this movie. My first reaction to the film was "No thanks." Then it began to perform well at Ye Olde Boxe Office. My reaction was "What? Isn't that just a dumb wedding movie? Never underestimate the power of a generic romantic comedy, I guess." Then it just kept rocketing upwards from the crypt, and my mom saw it and loved it. It became this huge, hovering ghost swirling above me, saying "You review moooooooovies... you muuuuuuust seeeeeee meeeeeeee....." and I shouted "I say thee nay, foul spectre! Cease thy constant haunting of my every restless day and sleepless night! I shan't be coerced into seeing a film about the absurdly garish pageatnry of the archaic ceremony of forcibly joining two independent human beings into one child-manufacturing unit in the imaginary eyes of an invisible superhero that lives in outer space*! I cannot possibly be entertained by such a thing! I am far too attached to the nine dollars it will cost me to view it!" Yet its presence remained constant, unabated by my pleas and cries of woe. And so I was broken, and I took in a matinee showing, so I could at least remain in possession of a small portion of my precious dollars.

I was expecting a catastrophe of Reese Witherspoon Vehicle proportions, so you might not be surprised to learn that the film didn't turn out to be half bad. Rather than your standard romantic comedy crap where they try to pretend that there's a chance that the two leads might not wind up together, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion in this case - perhaps they realized that while a lot of audiences like dumb crap, if you tried to inject some question as to whether or not there would be a wedding in a movie with the word 'wedding' in the title, it might actually cross the heretofore imaginary line into being too stupid for the American public.

Slightly-Less-Than-Beautiful-In-The-Eyes-Of-People-Magazine Greek Girl in family that harps constantly about marriage finds enough courage to actually take a step towards getting under the unending obnoxious pressure of her family to do exactly what they do and then decides to slather on makeup and do her hair up real big as a side effect. Girl then meets Long-Haired Guy In Nice Clothes (which generally means Long-Haired Guy is not awash in the True Long-Haired Guy Spirit, because Long-Haired Guys should have no interest in fashionable clothing - they should only have interest in ROCK. Yes, I know, what about all the "poets" and professors like John Corbett in this movie? THEY ARE NOT TRUE LONG-HAIRED GUYS. They are Sensitive Pony-Tail Men. It is when Sensitive Pony-Tail Men do not have their hair pulled back that the confusion arises. This is irresponsible on the part of Sensitive Pony-Tail Men and it besmirches the good name of Long-Haired Guys). They woo. Girl, however, knows her family is all insane about tradition and being Greek to the point where they have no other personality traits, and since Sensitive Pony-Tail Man isn't Greek, there will be insurmountable problems. Luckily, though, Sensitive Man is willing to go through whatever bullshit hoops the family wants him to go through, because he only has lame aloof honky traditions in his family that mean absolutely nothing and, of course, because he loves Girl.

As much as I hate to delve into gender stereotypes, it seems rather obvious that there's a lack of male input in this story if only because of the scene in which Sensitive Man is talking with his Only Friend (The Guy Who Played Larry On "The Drew Carey Show" and also was on "The Norm Show" aka Ian Gomez) about all the baptizing and dancing for approval that Sensitive Man has to do. Only Friend says "So, that family pretty much has you by the balls, huh? When they say jump, you jump." Sensitive Man just pauses for a moment, smiles that dreamy smile and nods silently, and that's officially all the weight that's given to that little aspect of the story. NO TWO DUDES HAVE THAT CONVERSATION. If that subject is brought up, one of two things can happen: A.) Sensitive Man at least offers some sort of justification for a situation that seems like he's being led around by the gennys or some reasons as to why he's willing to put up with it (this could be anything from "Well, neither of us really believe in this hooey, but her family does, and thus it's only a mild inconvenience to get them off our backs about this relatively inconsequential crap" to "Dude, I totally fucking love all that Greek-ass shit - it's da bomb, A-#1, hot shit!"), or B.) Only Friend starts to give Sensitive Man unrelenting amounts of shit about it (this can be anything from "Dude, you have no nuts. You have traded in your testicles for baklava and praying" to "You colossal fucking loser, I have lost all respect for your spineless ass. Don't you have at least ONE principle?").

But I digress. Overall, the film has some interesting moments because it deals with a culture rarely explored on film, so it's a learning experience. This allows for some new characters to be seen, and even though they're one-dimensional, it doesn't seem quite as stale as it could. Nia Vardalos is attractive and charming, which makes things much easier to take, and her self-doubt about how weird her family will seem to people feels real. As for the 'comedy' part of the romantic comedy, mild bemusement at best, nothing much for the guffaw-loving crowds.

A sweet little story about getting married and not resenting your heritage. Fine. However, I can almost guarantee this will become a sitcom.

*Credit for the hilarious phrase "invisible superheroes that live in outer space" used to describe the deities of the accepted religions on this planet must be given to "Get Your War On" by David Rees. The full quote can be found here, the second strip from the bottom. This is funny shit, although entirely unrelated to "My Big Fat Hairy Deal Wedding."

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