My Big Fat Greek Wedding
|My Big Fat Greek Wedding|
|Directed by||Joel Zwick|
|Written by||Nia Vardalos|
|Edited by||Mia Goldman|
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
|Box office||$368.7 million|
My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 American-Canadian independent romantic comedy film directed by Joel Zwick and written by Nia Vardalos, who also stars in the film as Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos, a middle class Greek American woman who falls in love with the upper middle class White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Ian Miller. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and, at the 75th Academy Awards, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
A sleeper hit, the film became the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, and grossed $241.4 million in North America, despite never reaching number one at the box office during its release. It was the highest-grossing film with that distinction for 14 years until the animated film Sing grossed $268 million in 2016.
Thirty-year-old Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos is a member of a large, loud, intrusive Greek family that only wants her to get married and have children. Frumpy and meek, she works in her family's Chicago restaurant, "Dancing Zorba's", but longs to do something more with her life. While working one day, she is immediately smitten with Ian Miller, a handsome school teacher. She amuses Ian when he catches her staring at him and jokingly calls herself his “own private Greek statue.” That evening, Toula offers to go to college to learn about computers so she can improve the restaurant, but her father, Gus, becomes emotional, claiming Toula wants to leave him. Her mother, Maria, comforts Toula and convinces Gus to agree to Toula's idea.
As the weeks pass, Toula gains more confidence and changes her image, switching her thick-framed glasses for contact lenses, styling her hair, and wearing makeup and brighter clothes that show off her figure. She sees a notice for a course on computers and tourism and tells her Aunt Voula, who owns a travel agency, that she could apply what she learns in the course to Voula's business. Voula agrees, and she and Maria slyly convince Gus to agree as well.
Toula's happiness working at the travel agency catches Ian's attention and he asks her to dinner. Knowing her family wouldn't approve of her dating a non-Greek, Toula lies that she is taking a pottery class in order to see Ian. Ian eventually realizes Toula is the waitress from Dancing Zorba's; contrary to Toula's fear that he would lose interest in her, Ian reaffirms his fondness of her. They continue dating and fall in love.
Toula's lie is ultimately exposed. Gus is furious that Ian did not ask his permission to date Toula, despite the fact that they are grown adults. Gus refuses to let them continue seeing each other, but they ignore his decree, so Gus introduces Toula to single friends of his own, to no avail.
Ian proposes marriage and Toula accepts. Maria tells Gus that he must accept their marriage, but Gus remains upset because Ian is not a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. To get the family to accept him, Ian agrees to be baptized into the church. The Portokalos family does finally accept him, but constantly inserts themselves into the wedding planning, designing ugly bridesmaid's dresses and misspelling Ian's mother's name on their wedding invitations.
Ian's quiet, conservative parents meet the entire family during a loud and extravagant Greek family dinner and are overwhelmed by the experience, frustrating Gus. Toula worries about whether her father has really accepted Ian. Maria explains that, growing up, her family experienced many hardships, and that she and Gus simply want her to be happy. Toula's grandmother shows Toula photos of herself as a young woman and the crown she wore at her own wedding, which Toula puts on. When the three women all look at Toula in her bedroom mirror, the sight of three generations in the reflection makes Toula smile with pride. The wedding proceeds as planned.
At the wedding reception, Gus gives a heartfelt speech focusing on how the differences in the newlyweds' backgrounds do not matter. He and Maria then surprise Toula and Ian with a house as a wedding gift; Toula is speechless at the gesture of love from her father. As the two families dance together, Toula narrates that while her family is indeed loud, odd, and somewhat dramatic, she knows they love her and will always be there for her.
Six years later, Toula and Ian leave their house—conveniently located right next door to Gus and Maria's—to walk their daughter to Greek school.
- Nia Vardalos as Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos
- John Corbett as Ian Miller
- Lainie Kazan as Maria Portokalos, Toula's mother
- Michael Constantine as Costas "Gus" Portokalos, Toula's father
- Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula
- Louis Mandylor as Nikos "Nick" Portokalos, Toula's brother
- Gia Carides as Cousin Nikki
- Gerry Mendicino as Uncle Taki
- Joey Fatone as Cousin Angelo
- Bess Meisler as Yiayia (Grandma)
- Stavroula Logothettis as Athena Portokalos
- Ian Gomez as Mike, Ian's best friend; he was Vardalos's real-life husband at the time of filming
- Bruce Gray as Rodney Miller, Ian's father
- Fiona Reid as Harriet Miller, Ian's mother
- Jayne Eastwood as Mrs. White, a non-Greek neighbor
My Big Fat Greek Wedding started as a one-woman play written by and starring Vardalos, performed for six weeks at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Los Angeles in the summer of 1997. Vardalos later jokingly stated that she only wrote the play "to get a better agent." The play was based on Vardalos's own family in Winnipeg in Canada and on her experience marrying a non-Greek man (actor Ian Gomez). The play was popular, and was sold out for much of its run, in part due to Vardalos's marketing it across Greek Orthodox churches in the area. A number of Hollywood executives and celebrities saw it, including actress Rita Wilson, who is herself of Greek origin; Wilson convinced her husband, actor Tom Hanks, to see it as well.
Vardalos began meeting various executives about making a film version of the play and began writing a screenplay as well. However, the meetings proved fruitless because the executives insisted on making changes that they felt would make the film more marketable, which Vardalos objected to: these included changing the plot, getting a known actress in the lead role (Marisa Tomei was one name mentioned), and changing the family's ethnicity to Hispanic. Two months after the play's initial run ended, Hanks's production company, Playtone, contacted Vardalos about producing a film based on her vision for it; they also agreed to remount the play in early 1998, this time at LA's Globe Theatre. Hanks later said that casting Vardalos in the lead role "brings a huge amount of integrity to the piece, because it's Nia's version of her own life and her own experience. I think that shows through on the screen and people recognize it."
In 2000, while in Toronto doing pre-production for the film, Vardalos and Playtone producer Gary Goetzman overheard actor John Corbett (who was in town shooting the film Serendipity) at a bar, telling a friend of his about having read the script for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and being upset that he couldn't make the auditions. Vardalos and Goetzman approached Corbett and offered him the part of Ian Miller on the spot, which he accepted.
Despite being based on life in the Greek community of Winnipeg, the film was set in Chicago and shot in both Toronto and Chicago. Toronto's Ryerson University and Greektown neighborhood feature prominently in the film. The home used to depict Gus and Maria Portokalos's residence (as well as the home bought next door at the end of the film for Toula and Ian) is located on Glenwood Crescent just off O'Connor Drive in the Toronto suburb of East York. The real home representing the Portokalos' residence actually has most of the external ornamentation that was shown in the film. Also, some minor parts of the movie were shot at Jarvis Collegiate Institute in Toronto.
After a February 2002 premiere, it was initially released in the United States via a limited release on April 19, 2002 before receiving a wider release worldwide over the summer, including a wide release in the United States on August 2.
Box office performance
My Big Fat Greek Wedding became a sleeper hit and grew steadily from its limited release. Despite never hitting the number one spot and being an independent film with a $5 million budget, it ultimately grossed over $368.7 million worldwide, becoming one of the top romantic films of the 21st century. It was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2002 in the United States and Canada, with USD$241,438,208, and the highest-grossing romantic comedy in history. Domestically, it also held the record for the highest-grossing film never having been number one on the weekly North American box office charts until the 2016 release of the animated film Sing. However, adjusted for inflation, the gross of My Big Fat Greek Wedding was still higher, equivalent to $322 million in 2016. The film is among the most profitable of all time, with a 6150% return on a (inflation adjusted) cost of $6 million to produce.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating 76% based on 129 reviews, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Though it sometimes feels like a television sitcom, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is good-hearted, lovable, and delightfully eccentric, with a sharp script and lead performance from Nia Vardalos." On Metacritic, which assigns a rating based on reviews, the film has an average score of 62 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
|Academy Awards||Best Original Screenplay||Nia Vardalos||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Acting Ensemble||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Nominated|
|Best Writer||Nia Vardalos||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Nominated|
|Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Nia Vardalos||Nominated|
|MTV Movie Awards||Best Breakthrough Female Performance||Nia Vardalos||Nominated|
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Motion Picture||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Nominated|
|Favorite Comedy Motion Picture||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Won|
|Producers Guild of America||Best Theatrical Motion Picture||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||My Big Fat Greek Wedding||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Award||Best Original Screenplay||Nia Vardalos||Nominated|
In 2012, a 10th anniversary edition of the film was released via DVD and Blu-ray by HBO. The edition contains a digital copy of the film and features deleted scenes as well as a 30-minute retrospective with Vardalos and Corbett.
The cast (with the exception of Vardalos, who had a separate deal), as well as Hanks' production company, Playtone, later sued the studio for their part of the profits, charging that Gold Circle Films was engaging in so-called "Hollywood accounting" practices.
The film inspired the brief 2003 TV series My Big Fat Greek Life, with most of the major characters played by the same actors, with the exception of Steven Eckholdt replacing Corbett as the husband. Corbett had already signed on to the TV series Lucky. He was scheduled to appear as the best friend of his replacement's character, but the show was cancelled before he appeared. The show received poor reviews from critics noting the random character entrances and serious plot "adjustments" that did not match the film.
In a 2009 interview for her film My Life in Ruins, asked about a possible sequel for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Vardalos stated that she had an idea for a sequel and had started writing it, hinting that, like Ruins, the film would be set in Greece.
Asked about a sequel again in a November 2012 interview, she stated:
Well, actually, yes. And it's only now that I've really become open to the idea. Over the years, I've heard from everybody about what the sequel should be. People next to me at Starbucks would say, 'Hey, let me tell you my idea,' and I'd be like, 'Hey, I'm just trying to get a cup of coffee.' I never thought much about it. But then when John (Corbett) and I recently sat down to do that interview (for the 10th anniversary edition), we laughed so hard through the whole thing. It made me think that it's time. He said, "Come on, write something, will you?" And I now think I will. We have such an easy chemistry together. And we have chemistry because we never 'did it.' That's the surefire way to kill chemistry in a scene. You have to make sure your actors don't 'do it' off-screen. If they don't 'do it,' then they'll have chemistry on camera.
On May 27, 2014, various news and media outlets reported that a sequel was in the works. Nia Vardalos later confirmed this via Twitter, and she also has written a script for the film. The first trailer for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was aired on NBC's The Today Show on November 11, 2015 and it was released on March 25, 2016, to negative critical reception and modest box office success.
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