Film Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Belated sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 features much of the charm and tone of the original hit romantic comedy. Nia Vardalos’ screenplay depicts the Portokalos family at the next stage of life.

Toula and Ian have a teenage daughter about to graduate high school and leave for university. Meanwhile, Toula’s parents are ageing, and need more support. A recently discovered family secret brings the Portokalos family back together for another wedding…

Fourteen years after My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a box office hit, Nia Vardalos is back scripting and starring in this belated sequel. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is more of an intergenerational comedy, owing to the time that has past. The film shifts its focus from romance to family. Through the character of Toula, the audience sees a shift in priorities. The film focuses on her as she cares for her elderly parents whilst her daughter gets ready to leave for college.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 works well in reflecting a stable and mature marriage through Toula and Ian, the coming of age of daughter Paris, and the seasoned relationship of Toula’s parents. This sequel continues in its depiction of the traditional roles of the first film, although there is some updating. There seems to be a bit of a breakthrough, or revelation, in the climax. However, the film quickly reverts to archetypes.

The comedy works well overall. Some of the jokes are a little weary, but the film does garner laughs. Vardalos has realised the success of the Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) character from the first film, so she gets more screen time in this instalment. Elena Kampouris is a decent addition to the older cast, who reprise their roles well. John Stamos and Rita Wilson (who also produces) have more cameo-style roles than fleshed out characters.

Hitting the right notes most of the time, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 should satisfy fans of the first film looking for another fix.

Film Review: Men, Women & Children

MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN

Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children is a treatise on the negative aspects of the internet. The drama is slow-burning, with characters that engage throughout.

A group of high school students navigate the modern world, with their lives played out and guided by online activity. Their parents too navigate the impact the internet has had in their lives…

In previous films, director and co-writer Jason Reitman has exhibited a knack for depicting authentic characters, not all of whom are entirely likeable. Reitman continues this trend with Men, Women & Children, albeit with an ensemble cast rather than one or two protagonists.

Men, Women & Children distributes its run time fairly evenly between parents and their kids. The film takes a little while to develop the characters, given the numbers involved in the storylines. Nevertheless, as the film progresses, the characters are fleshed out sufficiently to make them appear authentic.

Reitman’s film is abundantly clear in its views of the impact of the internet. As a fable on the negative aspects of the internet, Men, Women & Children feels like it has arrived a little late. Whilst the far-reaching impact of the internet on modern society is a topic ripe for investigation, the film seems reductive in its moralising. It is obvious the type of relationship which is endorsed by the film, and the types that are considered unhealthy.

Performances in the film are strong. The ensemble cast performs well, particularly Judy Greer and Elena Kampouris. Jennifer Garner is also decent, as is Adam Sandler; it is refreshing to see him in a more subdued role.The film’s soundtrack works well.

Although it does have its merits, Men, Women & Children is not at the same level as some of Jason Reitman’s previous films. A more nuanced depiction of the theme would have no doubt been an improvement.

Men, Women & Children is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.