It’s been 14 years since we first met the overbearing, Windex-worshipping Portokalos family, as ugly duckling Toula (Nia Vardalos) tied the knot with vegetarian WASP Ian (John Corbett) in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Now Vardalos is revisiting—and recycling—the movie, which earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, with a harmless but forgettable sequel.
As the title suggests, most of the action revolves around nuptials. This time, Toula’s parents (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan) discover after more than 50 years of not-so-wedded bliss that their marriage certificate is invalid. The entire family rallies to legally bind its matriarch and patriarch, while Vardalos stuffs the rest of her screenplay with shallow plotlines, from Toula’s moody daughter (Elena Kampouris) wanting to go to college far from home to Toula and Ian’s attempts to revitalize their marriage.
Vardalos sticks as close to her original script as possible, lifting lines and re-creating entire sequences from the first film. It’s not a bad strategy; after all, the original is the highest-grossing rom-com, domestically, of all time. But the winking ethnic jokes weren’t all that revolutionary in the first film, and this time around, they feel even more stale. With the original, Vardalos and Corbett’s easygoing chemistry and the charm of Toula’s slightly insane but loving family pushed My Big Fat Greek Wedding to sleeper success. But the 2016 edition feels more like the short-lived, ill-received TV spin-off My Big Fat Greek Life: overly broad and ultimately unfunny. The result is a tired and unnecessary retread that not even a healthy spritz of Windex can cure. C–