I’m not afraid to admit that one of my all-time favorite movies is My Big Fat Greek Wedding. So what if it’s technically a romantic comedy? I have no shame. Even if it does follow the chick-flick archetype, there are some big fat ways in which it breaks the mold.
Nia Vardalos is not JLo or Kate Hudson. Fact: Chick flicks must star JLo or Kate Hudson. Nia Vardalos is neither of them. And thank god. If I have to see Kate Hudson lose another guy in ten days or watch JLo play the sweet and innocent girl next door I’m gonna barf. After seeing Almost Famous—a movie I’m definitely not ashamed to admit loving—I know Kate Hudson has some serious acting chops. Especially judging from the scene when Penny Lane takes all the quaaludes. Classic.
And with JLo, I can’t really buy into the innocence. Especially after her multiple marriages (and who can forget the near-marriage of Bennifer?). JLo’s a boss lady. Not a frumpy dog walker or hotel maid that keeps finding rich dudes to marry. The only film role of JLo’s I support is Selena. Okay. Selena is for sure a shamefully-admitted guilty pleasure. But it’s probably the funniest movie about an assassination I’ve ever seen. And no, that wasn’t a spoiler.
Nia Vardalos, on the other hand, is their opposite. Yeah she has the ethnic thing going for her like JLo, but she definitely wouldn’t ever be cast in a rom-com. That is unless she is the writer, director, or producer a la My Life in Ruins and I Hate Valentine’s Dayand of course Greek Wedding.
The worst makeover scene in movie history. A makeover scene is central to the story lines of some of the best (yeah, I said it) romantic comedies. But in MBFGW, Toula doesn’t exactly get hot. Yeah she looks a lot better, but it’s not like she’s a model. Take The Princess Diaries for example. Mia’s transformation is so drastic, it looks like they hired a different actress. And interesting enough, Toula made her hair ultra curly. The opposite of Mia.
On top of this, her post-makeover wardrobe included jean jackets and chunky Jesus sandals (unless the sandals were a subtle tribute to her ancient heritage). Her transformation is complete when she stands in front of her mirror and checks her self out. She has the same uncomfortable look that happens at these moments when the makeoveree notices that they’re hot for the first time. Yet usually this moment involves showing off a little skin. Not for Toula. She’s fully covered and wearing a cardigan.
Entertainment Weekly seems to disagree with me. They think her makeover is extraordinary. Check out their montage of this and other movie makeover montages.
The story line. If my English degree has taught me anything, and I hope it has considering the student loans I have to pay off, it’s that you can look at any book, movie, song, painting, or what have you and over analyze the crap out of it. This is not a film (I think it’s a stipulation of the English degree to call it a film) about a simple love story. This is about racism.
Gus Portokalos is totally racist. He hates anyone who isn’t Greek. After being all like “you have to get married,” his daughter finally finds a mate and he flips out. And then he would rather her marry one of the creeps from the dinner montage. Those guys were sketchy. And I would go as far to say that they give a bad name to Greeks, just like Gus.
I can’t get a gyro without thinking that the guy serving it to me isn’t looking down on me for not being related to the people who invented democracy. Sorry. But I’m part Italian, and they invented some pretty cool stuff. Like pizza. Everyone loves pizza! And the Roman Empire was legit. But then I think of the ending and realize that Gus learns the errors of his ways and I can eat my gyro in peace.
And speaking of my Italian heritage, this movie reminds me of my big fat Italian family and our weddings and Christmas parties. Which is another reason I love it so much. Although that doesn’t really go into my argument about this not being a typical chick flick, that’s just a fun fact. So is it the typical chick flick or isn’t it?
So is it a chick flick, or isn’t it? Looking further into the story line, what’s up with her brother, Niko? There’s a whole undeveloped movie, I mean, film, there waiting to be made. He’s single, in his mid-20s, works as a cook, and still lives with his parents. Nobody ever bothers him about getting married, but god forbid he starts to draw! How dare he try to make the menus look better?
What do you think? Does My Big Fat Greek Wedding break the mold of romantic comedy? Or am I pulling the English-major card and completely over-analyzing to make myself feel better about loving a chick flick? You be the judge.
You can read more from Matthew Smith here.
(Image via HBO.)