It's been 14 years since My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nia Vardalos' sleeper hit about a Greek woman who marries a non-Greek man to the chagrin of her family, hit theaters.
Considerable time has passed and life has changed for Toula (Vardalos, Helicopter Mom) and her husband Ian (John Corbett, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll) since then and today, when My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 debuts, but the Portokalos family has stayed more or less the same: loud, boisterous and enamored with their Greek heritage.
This time around, Toula's parents are the ones planning their own big fat Greek wedding when they learn they were never married by the church. Simultaneously, Toula and Ian try to reignite their relationship and deal with their teenage daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris, The Cobbler), who rebels against her Greek upbringing.
The story is a bit contrived and certainly doesn't drive the narrative forward like Toula and Ian's wedding does in the original film. Thankfully, the plot is mostly secondary to the entertaining antics and shenanigans the crowded Portokalos clan gets into along the way.
And in a year teeming with overdue sequel releases — from February's Zoolander 2 to the upcoming Bridget Jones's Baby — Greek Wedding 2 stands out for its ability to inject a healthy dose of nostalgia without being defined by it.
Audiences still find Toula's father Gus (Michael Constantine, Location! Location!) toting around his trusty Windex spray bottle and claiming every word and culture can be traced back to Greek origin. And yes, there is another wedding. Still, Greek Wedding 2 doesn't simply rehash the first film frame-by-frame or line-by-line, as so many other sequels do.
Perhaps the sole great disappointment of Greek Wedding 2 (apart from needless appearances from John Stamos and Rita Wilson) is the meager screen time Corbett's Ian gets in the film and the little emphasis put on his and Toula's marriage. But then again, it serves as a reminder that despite the films' focus on marriage and weddings, the franchise has always been more about family than it has been about romance.
Greek Wedding 2 is unlikely to find itself counted among classic comedies alongside the original. After all, the film's focus on Toula sending her daughter off to college and taking care of her elderly parents probably resonates more with middle-aged audiences than anyone else.
Nevertheless, devoted fans of the original film will enjoy the sequel — if not for the plot, then at least to catch up with the compelling and enduring characters at its core.