In the late 1990s, a little-known (all right, a completely unknown) actress named Nia Vardalos wrote and starred in a one-woman play. It ran for six weeks at the Hudson Backstage Theater in Los Angeles. She based it on her experience as a member of an extended Greek family who married a non-Greek. Thanks to some smart marketing (she promoted the work at local Greek Orthodox churches), the show was a hit. And, one of the people in the audience, of Greek descent herself, was actress Rita Wilson. She came back another night with her husband Tom Hanks, and his fledgling production company Playtone offered to turn the play into a movie. They spent $5 million on it. It grossed $369 million.

That’s a lot of baklava!

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the surprise success of 2002, leading to a short-lived sit-com (My Big Fat Greek Life), and joining Moonstruck and Crossing Delancey as many fans’ all-time favorite rom-coms. Like those other two films, the movie is at least as much about the eccentricities of an ethnic group as it is about “girl meets boy.” And, although some Greek American viewers were offended by stereotyped behaviors, most of us felt great affection for Toula (Vardalos’s character) and the entire Portokalos family.

Fast forward fourteen years, and we have the sequel that we didn’t realize we were waiting for: simply and aptly named, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. My teenage daughter and I decided to see it as soon as it came out. (I had shared the original with her on DVD several years ago.) Like any active citizen of social media, I posted our plans online. Within minutes, a number of friends warned me that critics had not been kind. Disappointed, I checked to see what else might be playing, but found nothing that would appeal to both my daughter and me. And, I certainly wasn’t going to back out of a rare opportunity to spend an evening together. We decided to ignore the reviews.

So, apparently, did hundreds of other people. When we got to the theater, we had to sit in the second row because there were no other seats available. And, gauging from the laughter that erupted every few moments, pretty much start to finish, I’d say that everyone there had a big fat Greek good time. Add to this the fact that the sold-out movie is written by and stars a woman (and she’s supported by a number of also excellent women), and it’s good news all-around.

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Nevertheless, I’ll start by addressing some of the film’s many flaws — not because they were insurmountable, but because I want to get them out of the way. The movie is contrived and predictable. It’s often confusing. It feels too much like a TV situation comedy. Important storylines (like one about Toula and Ian’s marriage being on the rocks) are never fully played out. And, there are countless jokes re-hashed from the first, let’s face it, better movie. The critics who are finding fault with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 aren’t exactly wrong.

But, I think they’re missing the point.

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