The Portokalos clan – that slightly dysfunctional, extended Greek-American family – is back for a third screen instalment. This time they venture back to the family’s homeland, specifically to a rustic little village. Their extended Greek holiday is triggered by the loss of the family head Gus Portokalos. As a result, his daughter Toula is tasked with fulfilling his last wishes.
This adventure to the old country leads to a few discoveries including relatives the family didn’t know about. Although a comedy,. the film contains more serious elements relating both to the family and more broader global issues. On the familial level, not only has the family head died (Michael Constantine the actor who played Gus did in fact die two years earlier). but his wife is suffering the early stages of dementia.
On a broader level, there are references to more serious international issues. More than once the topic of political refugees surfaces with even a brief mention of the Ukrainian situation. Although a light-hearted comedy, we are reminded that it is anchored in contemporary reality.
Of course there is a wedding but unlike the previous movies, it is a little more controversial and concerns more distant family members than the immediate Portokalos clan. In this sense, the plot is not predictable or formulaic.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3. Directed by Nia Vardalos, 2023.
This third instalment of the ‘Greek Wedding’ franchise and is as entertaining as the first two. In addition, we enjoy the tranquil scenery of rural Greece which enhances the holiday atmosphere of the film. But instead of glitzy four-star hotels, these tourists have to rough it in rather spartan accommodation. For example, showers need to be taken outdoors without warm water and family members have to sleep in a communal area as there are no separate bedrooms. On top of all this, farm animals linger on doorsteps and occasionally venture indoors uninvited.
While comic, these spartan surroundings also have a more serious aspect – reminders of the harsh life these migrants left behind. Relocating to a new country and cut off from extended family, they had to adapt to a different culture, different language, different values. Unsurprisingly, they cling to their familiar cultural and family traditions. This film highlights the conflict and the comedy that arises from this accommodation of cultures across the generations.
There is dancing and singing and partying all in typical Greek style (In some ways, it resembles a ‘Mama Mia’ film but without all the ABBA musical numbers). Nia Vardalos is delightful as the lead and does an excellent job as both director and scriptwriter. Overall, one gets the impression that the cast are really enjoying themselves not just acting the part.
An all round feel-good film.