|*this image isn't mine|
I promised a movie review, and a movie review is what you are getting, dear followers. And the post title and the image (and indeed the last post) should tell you what movie I'm reviewing. Nothing particularly meaningful, although unique as you'll find out in this review, My Big Fat Greek Wedding follows a simple plotline following Toula, an Orthodox Greek girl convincing her family to allow her to controversially marry a non-Greek, and subsequently plan a wedding that will please everyone. A plot you would assume would either be an absolute flop, intensely stereotyped or one of those movies you'd watch, laugh at and then forget about. But I'm determined to prove you wrong.
When I saw this in the car boot sale, I was thinking the following: nothing much of a masterpiece, probably not even going to be particularly funny, but okay for a laugh, as one of the films that are so bad they're funny. However, this film is a prime example of the phrase "Don't judge a book (or rather a movie) by its cover", and this turned out as a pleasant surprise. While I was expecting the typical characteristics of recent, cynically funny rom-coms, instead it packed traditional exaggerated characters that are usually replaced by simpering, overly emotional people who remind everyone, of every age and background, slightly too much of them or someone they know. And the plot devices and sources of humour bore the same ideas: humour was mainly built on exaggerating certain personality traits or recurring situations (my favourite moments in the movie were when the protagonist's dad attempted to convince everyone that every word had a Greek root, including "kimono". A situation that can seem funny without seeming stereotypical), and the plotline was basic, revolving around two main characters getting married and their families, unlike those annoying rom-coms that keep cutting between sub-stories until you've forgotten everyone's name.
I don't know whether it was the linear plotline, the funny-but-not-over-the top humour or the distinct characterisation, but My Big Fat Greek Wedding often felt like it could be just as good a film if it was animated. Obviously not because of the story itself (I don't see a little kid enjoying a yarn about accepting the unfamiliar, or at least in this context), but the way the story progresses is so simple and easy to understand, that it's not all that different from the beginning-middle-end structures of Disney movies. And it's not only that; the verbal humour (including the dad's word root obsession and another timeless quote in the Greek aunt's reply to Toula's fiance being a vegetarian: "That's OK. I make lamb.") is never engineered to illustrate a deeper meaning, and although the reactions are quite exaggerated, you can really imagine some of the situations happening in a funny and definitely not cynical real life. Also, unlike some films where, apart from a lucky few, every character seems the same as the rest, each member of the two families seemed unique, with their own defining traits. Toula's aunt, with her outrageous comments ("Toula! You're engaged! You're engaged-We never think this would happen for you, never!"), her dad, a overly-patriotic Greek ("Toula, there's two kinds of people: Greeks and everybody else who wish they were Greeks.") and her fiance's parents, a conventional American couple who provide a stark contrast to the raucousness of Toula's own family (they particularly reminded me of a couple in a cartoon). And it's all these distinct, memorable characters that shape both the movie and the animation comparison; they provide much of the humour that makes it into a comedy and a possible animation; without them, it would just be a corny tale about the pressures of marriage.
After my initial surprise at my enjoyment of the film, I found this surprise in some ways justified when I looked up the film on Wikipedia, like I always do when I watch them. It is the USA's highest grossing rom-com! There I was thinking it was just another obscure flick I've never heard of, but it's actually broken an iconic record!
Anyway, that was just a little fact to share with you. In my opinion, a consistently funny movie that outshone all of my negative predictions. Worth a watch!