My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joel Zwick
Produced by Gary Goetzman
Tom Hanks
Rita Wilson
Written by Nia Vardalos
Starring Nia Vardalos
John Corbett
Lainie Kazan
Michael Constantine
Music by Alexander Janko
Chris Wilson
Cinematography Jeffrey Jur
Edited by Mia Goldman
Distributed by IFC Films
Release dates
  • April 19, 2002 (2002-04-19) (United States)
  • August 16, 2002 (2002-08-16) (Canada)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Canada
United States
Language English
Budget $5 million
Box office $368.7 million[1]

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 Canadian-American romantic comedy film written by and starring Nia Vardalos and directed by Joel Zwick. The film is centered on Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos, a Greek American woman who falls in love with a non-Greek upper middle class "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" Ian Miller. 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,[2] and grossed $241.4 million in North America, despite never reaching number one at the box office during its release (the highest-grossing film to accomplish this feat).

A sequel titled My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is currently in-production set for March 25, 2016 release.


Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) is going through an early midlife crisis. At thirty, having had her childhood, adolescence and adult life plagued by bad luck, she feels that she is the only woman in her family who has "failed" at being a typical Greek girl. Her family expects her to be more like her 33-year-old sister Athena (Stavroula Logothettis) and marry a Greek boy, make Greek babies, and "feed everyone until the day she dies." Instead, Toula is stuck working in the family restaurant in Chicago, "Dancing Zorba's." Frumpy and cynical, she fears that she is doomed to be stuck with her life as it is and always has been. One day while at the restaurant, Toula briefly becomes enamored with and embarrasses herself in front of Ian Miller (John Corbett), a handsome school teacher.

An argument with her overly-patriotic father Gus (Michael Constantine), who merely wants his daughter to marry and settle down rather than pursue a career, causes Toula to want her own life away from the restaurant and her intrusive family. After some persuasion by his wife, Maria (Lainie Kazan), Gus reluctantly permits Toula to begin taking computer classes at a local community college. Toula then trades her glasses for contact lenses, curls her hair, and begins to wear make-up, improving her confidence, mood and self-esteem. Armed with her skills, Toula convinces her mother and her Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) to get Gus to allow Toula to work at Voula's travel agency instead of the restaurant.

Toula does better in her new job, even catching the eye of Ian, who is smitten with her. Despite Toula being shy whenever she sees Ian, they finally introduce themselves indirectly, begin to date, and fall in love. Toula tries to keep the relationship secret from her family, until some weeks later when Gus finds out due to the closeness of the Greek American community. He throws a fit because Ian is not an ethnic Greek (a xeno), and he orders Toula to end the relationship and tries to set her up on dates with Greek men, but Ian and Toula continue to see each other against Gus's wishes. Ian proposes to her, and Toula accepts. Gus is hurt and infuriated, feeling that his daughter has betrayed him. Ian, wanting to be with Toula, agrees to be baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church, an act which earns Gus's grudging respect and the acceptance of the rest of the family.

As the months pass, the wedding planning hits snag after snag as Toula's numerous relatives "helpfully" interfere by imposing their ideas into her planning. The situation reaches its head when Gus and Maria invite the entire family to what was meant to be a "quiet" introductory dinner with Ian's demure and private parents. The Millers are not used to such cultural fervor and are completely overwhelmed, a situation made worse by the copious amounts of ouzo they accidentally consume. The evening is a failure, with Gus complaining that the Millers are too dry, "like a piece of toast".

The wedding day dawns with liveliness and hysteria and though Toula is nervous, the traditional Greek wedding itself goes without a hitch albeit in a comical fashion. At the reception, Gus gives a speech accepting Ian and the Millers as his new family. As his wedding gift, he presents the newlyweds with a deed to a new home. Following the reception and colorful Greek dancing, Toula and Ian drive away to begin their honeymoon and married life together.

An epilogue shows the new couple's life six years later. They have had a daughter, who complains that she would prefer not to go to Greek school. Toula placates her by assuring her that when the time comes, she can marry whomever she wants. As they walk towards Greek school, it is revealed that their home is right next door to that of Toula's parents.



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.[3] Vardalos later jokingly stated that she only wrote the play "to get a better agent."[4] 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).[4] 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.[5] A number of Hollywood executives and celebrities saw it, including actress Rita Wilson, who is herself of Greek origin;[5] 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),[5] and changing the family's ethnicity to Hispanic.[4] 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.[3] 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."[4]

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.[4]

Location and release dates[edit]

Parts of the film were shot in Greektown, Toronto

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' 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 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 in Jarvis High School in Toronto.

After a February 2002 premiere, it was initially released in the United States on April 19, 2002. That summer it opened in Iceland, Israel, Greece, and Canada. The following fall and winter it opened in Turkey, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, Australia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Norway, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Taiwan, the Philippines, Egypt, Peru, Sweden, Mexico, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Switzerland (German speaking region), France, Poland, Kuwait, Estonia, and Lithuania. It was finally released in South Korea in March 2

Reception and performance[edit]

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 according to Echo Bridge Entertainment.[1] It was the fifth highest-grossing film of 2002 in the United States and Canada,[6] with USD$241,438,208, and the highest-grossing romantic comedy in history.[2] Domestically, it is also the highest-grossing film never having been number one on the weekly North American box office charts.[7] The film is among the most profitable of all time, with a 6150% return on a (inflation adjusted) cost of $6 million to produce.[8]

The movie received generally positive reviews. Based on 121 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 76%, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's critical consensus was, "Though it sometimes feels like a television sitcom, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is good-hearted and lovable."[9] By comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 62, based on 29 reviews, which is considered to be "Generally favorable reviews".[10]


The cast (with the exception of Nia Vardalos, who had a separate deal), as well as Hanks's 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.[11]

10th-anniversary edition[edit]

In 2012, a 10th anniversary edition of the film was released. The edition includes a DVD version and a digital copy of the film and features deleted scenes as well as a 30-minute retrospective with Vardalos and Corbett.

My Big Fat Greek Life[edit]

Main article: My Big Fat Greek Life

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.

The 7 episodes from the series are available on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, whose TV studio division produced the show.

References within the film[edit]

Throughout the entire film, Gus continually uses Windex, the popular window cleaner, as a remedy for everything.

The film makes references to Zorba the Greek (1964), The Lost Boys (1987), That Thing You Do! (1996), and Meet the Parents (2000), while spoofing Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967).

Cultural references to the film[edit]

Another independent Canadian feature, Mambo Italiano (2003), referenced Wedding. The film was also parodied in the 2006 film Date Movie.

The film's title has been used as a snowclone, being copied across various titles:

Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding[edit]

After the film was released, there were multiple ethnic readings and analyses of the film. Different scholars and academics, criticized and reviewed the film based on it's ethnic impact on Hollywood.

In “When ‘Second Generation’ Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” by Yiorgos Anagnostou, Ohio State University Professor, he discusses how My Big Fat Greek Wedding depicts race and relations in the United States. It talks about how the film portrays immigrants in the United States as primitives and people who have “earlier temporal reality.” His article goes into specifics regarding body image, the male gaze, establishing ethnicity in a neo-traditional romantic comedy, and more. He speaks about how the female form is racially framed in the film and how its description dramatizes exclusion from “white femininity.” [12]

He also goes into the portrayal of the immigrant as an “other,” which he opens up by explicitly stating that “the camera directs a reductive gaze at the immigrant figure.” The one example he uses for the stereotyping and the depiction of Greeks as primal beings is that of the grandmother. He talks about how throughout the film she only uses body communication and few Greek words which emphasizes her savagery. It is then detailed how humor is a big part of the film’s out-casting of the Greeks as others and not as part of the White majority. The film even is self-reflexive in that the wise old father himself calls out their depiction as savages when he states that “they look at [them] like [they] are from the zoo.” [12]

Many Greek audiences noticed these factors and were offended by them, including scholar Agathi Glezakos, California State University Professor. She wrote a review shortly after the film came out outlining both the offensive and redeemable qualities of the film and comparing them to her experience as a Greek-American woman. She states in her review of the movie that she “identified with some of the Greek behaviors…and felt offended by others.” She talks about some behaviors that have been brought over by Greek-Americans that are no longer condoned by people in her “motherland.” The Greek-American sense of humor can be “insensitive, insulting, and degrading,” according to social American norms and this is very crudely displayed in the movie making the Greek-Americans look like “animals.” [13]

She also goes into something else that bothered her about the movie. She states that contemporary Greek-American women are not “baby machines,” a term used in the movie by the protagonist to describe her married sister. This is the overall mentality of the movie and is not welcomed by Glezakos and other scholars.[13]

These are only a few of the scholars that found the movie problematic in some aspects related to ethnicity and depiction of immigrants in Hollywood.


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.[14]

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."[15]

On May 27, 2014, various news and media outlets reported that a sequel is in the works. Nia Vardalos later confirmed this via Twitter, and she also has written a script for the film.[16] The sequel is set for a March 25, 2016 release date.[17] The first trailer for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 was aired on NBC's The Today Show on November 11, 2015.


  1. ^ a b "My Life in Ruins" (PDF).  Echo Bridge Entertainment. Retrieved on May 12, 2008
  2. ^ a b "TV Review - My Big Fat Greek Life". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-04-07. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  3. ^ a b My Big Fat Greek Wedding Headed for L.A.'s Globe Jan. 15 -- and Film, Willard Manus, Playbill, January 15, 1998
  4. ^ a b c d e My Big Fat Greek Wedding: About the Production, Hollywood Jesus, 2002
  5. ^ a b c Nia Vardalos interview, Robin Rea,
  6. ^ Box Office Mojo
  7. ^ "Top Grossing Movies that never hit #1". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  8. ^ Staff (September 15, 2010). "The 15 Most Profitable Movies of All Time". CNBC. Retrieved September 15, 2010.  The rankings cited in this article have been disputed as some movies were not included.
  9. ^ "My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  10. ^ "My Big Fat Greek Wedding reviews at". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 2010-05-08. 
  11. ^ Tom Hanks sues over 'Greek Wedding' profit
  12. ^ a b Anagnostou, Y. (2012). When "Second Generation" Narratives and Hollywood Meet: Making Ethnicity in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding.". Melus, 37(4), 139-163.
  13. ^ a b Glezakos, A. (2002). ONE GREEK'S REACTIONS TO MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. Reflections: Narratives Of Professional Helping, 8(4), 69-72.
  14. ^
  15. ^ The Huffington Post
  16. ^ [1]
  17. ^

External links[edit]