Happy Birthday: Nia Vardalos

niavardalos.jpgNia Vardalos

Born: September 24, 1962 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Married to: Ian Gomez (5 September 1993 – present) (1 child)

When I worked at ‘Second City’ in Canada, they brought me down to Chicago on a work permit. I was thrilled to be in Chicago. What I didn’t know is that you only make $65 a show. I was a child of immigrants, so everyone worked. I had a job at 16. And although I didn’t like that I’m very, very grateful for that now because it taught me to be self-supporting. It’s not like suddenly, when you become a working actor all your friends are in the same situation. I have friends who are still handing out flyers for their one-woman show and trying to make ends meet.

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL
2012
dir. Jamie Travis
Stars:
Ari Graynor
Lauren Miller

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Movie Review: MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (USA 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

greek_wedding_2.jpgMY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (USA 2016) ***
Directed by Kirk Jones

Review by Gilbert Seah

Cold on the heels of the big ethnic comedy $240 million hit MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, numero 2, the sequel arrives 14 years after audiences have forgotten everything about the first. The entire cast is supposedly all present though the director has changed hands.

Written and starring Nia Vardalos, the film is, as the title implies about her Greek family and another big wedding. In the first film and in this one, Toula (Vardalos) has to learn how to deal with her Greek parents and this time around her now grown up 17-year old teen daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris) adds more problems. One wonders why Paris is not named Athens or Athena.

The film is basically sitcom material – funny and laugh-out loud in parts as most sitcoms are. There are several stories on display here, the main one of which is the wedding of Toula’s parents Gus (Michael Constantine) and Maria (Lainie Kazan). As the story goes, their original marriage was not signed by the priest during the War and so they are not legally wed. Maria wants to be proposed to properly and not be taken for granted while Gus is too proud to do so. The other story is that of Toula being the fixer of the family’s problems. She needs to ‘date’ her husband, Ian (John Corbett) again. Another is Paris going to college. They want her to stay in Chicago but she wants to flee the nest to a college in NYC. Other subplots (too many for ones comfort) involves a gay family member coming-out, Gus’ reunion with his misunderstood brother and Gus’ ancestry. Most of the film goes exactly as expected down predictability lane without much fanfare though garnishing a few laughs.

The first movie made a ton of money despite horrid critical reviews. This second has only obtained a mere 25% approval rating (at the writing of this review) but of course, this might mean nothing. Though 14 years may be a long time for a sequel to bang on the success of the first, there should be sufficient Greeks and other ethnic immigrants who would appreciate this well-intentioned comedy.

The actors do well playing the parts. Andrea Martin from SCTV steals every scene she is in, as the fast and smart-talking aunt who is never afraid to show it. Writer Varalos and director Kirk Jones keep their film tame as family fare. Jones is best known for his Irish comedy hit WAKING NED DEVINE.

The film contains a lot of Greek that is to like. There are lots of Greek food, music and dances on display as the word Opa! that also appears on the license plate of their cars.
It should be warned too that the film is overly well-intentioned. The feel good parts are overdone and it seems that the film has been written for the family who only watches the Disney Channel. GREEK WEDDING 2 is ok entrainment and perhaps once every 14 years or so is the perfect time interval for any new entry.