My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

PG-13 / 94 minutes / Comedy, romance

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Fourteen years have passed since the Portokalos family surprised us with a funny little story about their crazy big family. Gus and Maria’s only daughter had yet to find a good Greek man and thanks to Ian (John Corbett) we all know how it ends. The first one, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was a $5-million romcom that no one knew would become such a hit including writer Nia Vardalos and producers Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson.

With the exact same cast, a slightly bigger budget ($18-million) and completely different director (Kirk Jones) comes My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. It’s amazing that all of the actors are still willing and capable to try this again. Can the magic happen a second time around?

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With a brand new story line that stays true to the title, there they all are solving a major family problem together once again but this time there’s a new member of the family, Toula and Ian’s only daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris is half Greek in real life.)

Fans are nostalgic about this Greek family, about Gus’s Windex and love for his heritage, about Aunt Voula’s awkwardly, confidant remarks, Maria’s strong personality loand grandma’s ability to mysteriously appear without saying a word. It’s hard not to smile at their intense connection, and lack of boundries, but it was harder to laugh this time.

While the main plot is not predictable, most of the gags are. When the camera takes a tight shot of the frozen car door lock, we know what’s coming next – a squirt of glass cleaner. We know Gus will claim every word in the English language comes from the Greeks. We know the Portokalos brothers witll cut-up like they’re still in high school. We know when Toula breaks her glasses at work she’ll find her old pair in the drawer. And all of the predictable moments would be okay if it didn’t feel like the film was just trying too hard to be likable.

Many of the jokes were over stated. Many of the scenes were over directed. Did Director Kirk Jones try too hard or did the cast just want the old chemistry to return? Maybe both.The one fresh joke was ruined by a plug before the film to use #pullmyneck complete with a demonstration on how to take a photo with your girlfriends by pulling each other’s neck to look thinner.

These actors genuinely like each other and came running when Nia Vardalos finally had script number two. Like all of us, they fell in love with that first one. It made all of us feel less awkward about our own crazy families. It showed everyone that all families have a little ‘crazy’ in the them. But sometimes we just can’t re-create something so organic, so accidentally brilliant, so magical. And that’s okay!

I know anyone who saw the first one will want to see this film, and if reminiscing is worth full-price prime-time admission and popcorn, then get right to it. If you decide to hit the matinee or wait for the DVD instead, that’s completely fine, too. Either way, you’ll find a cast of actors grateful to reconnect after 15 years. Another family reunion. Ops!

 

ARRUGA! – 0

Fidget Factor – 0

Age Range – 12 and up

Overall Grade – C

WTF – Stands for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Rated R
1 hour 52 minutes
Comedy, War
Cast: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton
Any movie described as both a comedy and a war film sounds like an episode of Mash or Hogan’s Heroes. Nope. This comedy, war film is rated R for all the truth TO this story. When a group of reporters and photographers sign up for a stint in the midst of war there’s likely a lot of booze and sex to numb the danger they’ve been placed in.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot follows the story of fluff reporter Kim Baker (Tina Fey) who by default is tagged to go to Afghanistan and Pakistan to cover the news for her television network. Leaving her career driven boyfriend behind, she heads off to a world of political unrest navigating serious news for the first time in her career.

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Watching Kim slowly move from  “girl next door” who does the same safe routine day after day to an assertive journalist who wants the big story without getting killed or raped in the process is actually entertaining. As Kelly Clarkson sings “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” certainly applies here. For Kim Baker, it not only made her stronger but changes her perhaps for the better.

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Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie) is thrilled to have a second female living among them and so are all the men in their house. All are members of the media from various countries like Iain MacKelpie (Martin Freeman) who has become almost numb to the high stress of covering the war. He also becomes smitten with the new girl on the block. Freeman is terrific in the role.

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Billy Bob Thornton is hilarious as the tough ass General Hollanek. He plays his role as the seasoned military leader with just the right amount of irritation and empathy for this America woman trying to get the big story without losing her life.

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I’m convinced that the dialogue MUST be authentic because it was a little too “inside baseball” for me and hard to track at times. Granted I embarrassed to admit that I have NOT been a diligent follower of the ins and outs of the War in Afghanistan. I only know enough to be dangerous. But even with a few missed sentences and names the story is fairly easy to follow and entertaining to watch.
I can’t say Whiskey Tango Foxtrot evoked a bunch of emotion. I laughed a little. Tina Fey was funny but she showed us a more serious side of her abilities. I never cried even when the characters did. I winced at a few bomb explosions but nothing really hit the heart strings very hard except some irritation at times. But even with its confusing storyline it kept my attention and even convinced me to like it by the time it was over.
Arruga! = 0 (R for a reason: violent, drug use, language)                   Fidget Factor = 0 (It’s odd but kept my attention)
Age Range = 16 and up
Overall Grade = C+