My Big Fat Greek Wedding is part therapy, part wish-fulfilment for writer-comic Nia Vardalos. It’s about an awkward Greek-American girl (Toula Portokalos, played by Vardalos) who’s brought up to believe her only role in life is to marry a Greek man and produce Greek babies. She boosts her self-esteem by enrolling in a vocational course and taking a job outside the family restaurant. Soon she’s ready to challenge her father’s authority by dating a shy, non-Greek WASP, Ian Miller (John Corbett).Vardalos and director Joel Zwick aren’t aiming for subtlety. Ethnic clichés abound, and the gags are broad rather than witty. Most of them stem from her father’s obsession with the superiority of Greek culture. You’re sure to laugh sooner or later; more likely sooner, given how quickly some of the jokes recur.
The good-natured charm wears thin once Toula allows her family to organise the wedding. Soon, she’s as monstrous and smothering to the Millers as the Portokalos family was to her. Not only is Vardalos transformed from ugly duckling into Greek princess, she gets to beat her family at their own game. Toula is truly her father’s daughter.
Zwick has been directing television since Happy Days 30 years ago, so it’s no surprise that Wedding has already been made into a sitcom. With box office takings in the United States currently $150 million and rising, it’s now succeeded The Blair Witch Project as America’s highest grossing independent movie of all time.There are several incidental family characters with potential for development in a sitcom, like Gia Carides’ cousin Nikki and Toula’s brother Nick (Louis Mandylor). But Vardalos and her team will have to think up a few new gags if this concept is to sustain a series.