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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 2/6/03

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
2002 (2003) - Playtone/HBO

review by Jason P. Smith of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

My Big Fat Greek Wedding Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/B-/C

Specs and Features

95 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew filmographies, audio commentary (with director Joel Zwick and stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett), cast biographies, animated film-themed menus with sound and music, scene access (17 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, French, Spanish & Greek, Closed Captioned

"Dad believed in only 2 things; that Greeks should educate non-Greeks about being Greek... and that any ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy could be cured with windex."

Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is 30, Greek, and still lives with her family. Working in their restaurant, Toula feels trapped and longs for a more adventurous life. When her mother convinces Gus, her father, to allow Toula to take a computer class at a local community college, her world finally starts to expand beyond her cultural upbringing. Toula soon meets Ian Miller (John Corbett), a high school English teacher and WASP, and they begin a secret love affair. But when her family finds out, her father is upset that Ian's a non-Greek. And Ian must learn how to deal with Toula's loud and outgoing Greek family.

There's nothing special about this formula: a thirty-something woman still lives with her parents and waits for her life to start. And there's nothing special about the cast: a large ensemble mixed with a few recognizable faces, like John Corbett of Sex and the City and Northern Exposure and Joey Fatone of N*SYNC. Yet, despite the lack of a truly original plot or romantic comedy heavy-hitters like Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan... there's definitely something special about this film. My Big Fat Greek Wedding manages to become more than the sum of its parts.

Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan are absolutely brilliant as Toula's parents. John Corbett is also charming as Ian Miller, the non-Greek. But the real treat here is watching Vardalos weave through her character's journey. This story was adapted by Vardalos from her own stage play. And while the script is sometimes a bit predictable, Vardalos' charm and joy radiate throughout the film and make each moment, predictable or not, exciting.

The video quality on this DVD from HBO is adequate for the film, but it could have been better. The film itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen, as well as cropped, full frame for those who prefer it. For both, the image quality is a bit too soft, with moderate grain visible in the print throughout the film. The colors are accurate, if a little warm - something that was true in theaters as well. Audio-wise, the film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, but both tracks might as well be stereo. All of the activity is up front, with very little surround use, even for atmosphere or music. Still, this is a dialogue-driven film, and the dialogue is always clean and clear, with the soundtrack nicely blended into the mix. It's not great audio, but it's natural and it works.

The biggest letdown here is with the extras. What you do get is an audio commentary track with the director and stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett, and a set of cast bios. The commentary is fine for what it is. These three obviously enjoy each other's company and this project was clearly a labor of love for them. They do have some interesting things to say, but the track feels a little uncomfortable, in that much of Vardalos' contribution is scripted. And for a film that scored so hugely at the box-office, not to have anything in the way of deleted scenes, outtakes, behind-the-scenes featurettes or even trailers is very disappointing.

In the end, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a wonderful film, with that special magic that drives romantic comedy buffs to see a movie three or four times. Perhaps that explains why it's become one of the most successful independent films of all time. The DVD is lacking, but if you're one of the eight people that hasn't seen this film yet, by all means go out and rent it. And if you're one of those people that has seen this film three or four times already, and you really love it, I'm sure you'll be able to find the disc for a friendly price.

Jason Smith
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