By Andrea Karen Hammer
When you want to travel virtually to the beautiful land of Greece or experience complete immersion in Greek culture, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Life in Ruins are the tickets for two great romantic comedies.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Love Bridges Culture Clash
One of the strengths of Nia Vardalos‘s writing and acting is her ability to poke fun at Greek traditions. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, she uses self-effacing humor while transforming her character, Toula Portokalos, from a 30-year-old unmarried woman into a bride dealing with a huge family fussing over every aspect of her life.
As her boyfriend and future husband, the low-key Ian Miller (John Corbett) is a perfect contrast and, ultimately, complement. Although her father, Gus (Michael Constantine), characterizes Ian as “white bread” and her brother plays embarrassing Greek word jokes on him, John Corbett makes Ian’s religious conversion during a baptism scene in a kiddie pool one of the funniest in the film.
Several other scenes in My Big Fat Greek Wedding elicit uncontrollable laughter. Toula’s Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) is hysterical to watch as she expresses her shock about Ian’s vegetarianism and carefully enunciates the appalled question: “You don’t eat meat?” She is equally funny while cornering Ian’s buttoned-up parents with too personal and in-depth details about her “bibopsy.”
The silent but endearing performance by Toula’s wandering-from-home grandmother (Bess Meisler) and compassionate but strong mother, Maria (Lainie Karzen), add humor and emotional depth to the movie. Their portrayals of women committed to their family’s happiness are central to the ensemble’s cohesiveness and the film’s complete success.
My Life in Ruins: Clever Title Playing on Greek Tour Guide’s Story
Building on her skill to balance humor and emotion, Nia Vardalos creates another delightful scenario in My Life in Ruins. The clever title, with a double meaning, alludes to the state of her character’s life while dealing with a hilarious group of crass tourists.
In her role as the tour guide, Georgia, Nia Vardalos is, once again, charming and engaging. While trying to present an image of pulled-together sophistication as a Greek tour guide, she allows her innocence and vulnerability to create some of the most touching scenes in the movie.
As the prone-to-bad-jokes widower, Richard Dreyfuss also lets down his guard when finally revealing to Georgia the depth of his loss. Alexis Georgoulis plays the Greek bus driver, who Georgia initially overlooks, with quiet and irresistible charm.
Along with a cast of colorful characters, this laugh-out-loud movie offers the chance to experience the beauty of Greece during a delightful and sometimes zany getaway.
Your Thoughts About These Romantic Comedies
How do you think these two romantic comedies compared? Did you enjoy both of them equally, and why or why not? Post your comments now!