My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 picks up twenty years after the popular original film and features the same great writing and hilarious antics that we loved about the first one. But the best thing about the sequel isn’t its revival of “Windex cures” or the “give me any word and I’ll tell you how it’s Greek” challenge; or the return of the wacky characters that make up the Portokalos family. It’s the movie’s focus on the importance of marriage and family.
The original film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, followed Toula (Nia Vardalos) on her journey to the altar with a non-Greek man (John Corbett) and all of the family antics that went with it. The sequel again follows Toula, this time exploring new challenges she faces as a married woman, a mother, and the peacemaker of Portokalos family.
While Toula has moved far beyond some of the difficulties she faced as an unmarried 30-something in the original film, she faces new struggles as a married woman and mother. One of the many lessons of the sequel is that marriage doesn’t solve our problems, yet the beauty of marriage is that you have someone to go through the joys and the difficulties of life with.
Toula’s daughter Paris is preparing to go off to college, which leaves Toula and her husband grappling with how to navigate life together without their daughter around. Paris is also struggling, because although she despises the usual extended family dramas, she’s beginning to realize the pivotal—and positive—role her crazy family has played in her life. There are, of course, many subplots throughout the film, but the central theme is that strong marriages and families are crucial to a thriving society.
The Portokalos clan isn’t special; in all honesty, they’re a mess (which makes for better comedy). But much like every other family in the world, they’re a beautiful mess.
Unlike a lot of modern families, however, the Portokaloses live on the same block and see each other almost daily. The grandchildren all go to the same school, the family members take turns cooking dinner and taking care of their aging parents, and they look out for one another. They are a miniature, de facto village. This is the way that society used to function and in many ways we were probably better off for it.
Looking around today at the steady stream of broken marriages and the destruction of families, with siblings and grandparents located all around the country or world rather than in close proximity, it’s hard not to wonder how different the world would be if we had protected this form of marriage and family life, and still lived in communities with our relatives, young and old, the way the Portokalos family does in this film. Yes, we would get on each other’s nerves, but we would also have a built-in support system.
Life isn’t easy, nor is being married or being a part of an extended family. But having a strong marriage and family to rely on during times of difficulty is invaluable. There is nothing better than calling your mom when you’re struggling or calling your dad when you have a big decision ahead of you. But it’s even better when you can walk over to a trusted relative’s home and pour out your concerns at their kitchen table. Hollywood is often (legitimately) criticized for undermining marriage and other traditional institutions. This film, by contrast, offers a much-needed reminder of the many virtues—and often-hilarious quirks—of family life.