Big Fat Greek Wedding
(2003) - Playtone/HBO
by Jason P. Smith of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
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
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.