The original My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a monstrous hit in 2002. It had a fresh take on an everyday story, and was funny, a little edgy and safe. It was lovingly infused with the experiences and perspectives of Greek comic Nia Vardalos, who wrote the screenplay and starred in it.
What made that film enjoyable, if not groundbreaking in any way, was its consistent loving and slightly horrified viewpoint on her Greek family, which was too tightknit, completely inappropriate at times, very supportive, and occasionally silly (e.g., Windex). But it was all of a piece, as viewers experienced her life one real-life experience at a time in a narrative arc that was comfortable and nonthreatening. As a classic comedy, it ended in a marriage, and like Moonstruck, the film brought all the fun ethnic craziness to a peak at the end.
The sequel takes place a couple of decades later, and is an unfunny mess. (Spoilers follow.) The necessary “wedding” is based on an absurdity, and the repercussions of the action that leads to that wedding are predictable and unbelievable at the same time. The film ends up as a series of gags around the various personalities; we discover nothing new or deeper, a series of unfunny jokes skimming off the surfaces of familiar people and scenarios rather than a fresh take on those folks and the circumstances around them.
The one triumph of the film is a producing one. They seemed to have managed to get the entire cast together for the sequel. Unfortunately, none of those involved can be happy about the final result. The screenplay is a missed opportunity, and the direction is hackneyed. Vardalos is still a warm and welcome screen presence, but even her character has been pushed into a helicopter parent mode that doesn’t make sense and isn’t properly supported.
There is a nod to today in the introduction of a character as gay. Nothing in the first film indicated that to be true, but both the character’s current situation and way that the film handles it should provide great study how to shoehorn an unwarranted sociological issue into a script while still essentially avoiding its ramifications. In fact, how the film addresses the issue is the funniest part of the film. To be truthful, there is one funny gag that works, and it involves what some of the women do when a photo is being taken. Otherwise, the gags fall flat.
If you enjoyed the first film, keep your recollections of it. If you want to revisit the characters, see the first film again and keep your precious memories safe.