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My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a 2002 Romantic Comedy film written by and starring Nia Vardalos, directed by Joel Zwick and produced by Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson. It is based on Vardalos' one woman show and at the 76th Academy Awards, it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Toula Portokalos is a single, voluptuous thirty-year-old Greek woman living with her parents and brother in a close-knit Chicago Greek community and working in the family's Greek restaurant. They even have a Greek statue in their front lawn and proudly painted the Greek flag on their garage door. Deciding to invigorate her life, she breaks out on her own to go to college and start working at a travel agency. She also gets a makeover, taming her wild hair and getting contacts.
In this new lifestyle she meets the handsome, charming but non-Greek Ian Miller. They fall for each other and decide to get married. Her dad does not approve; how could she possibly marry a non-Greek?
Nevertheless, things get sorted out and a huge and very Greek wedding is planned...
Noted for being the highest-grossing film to never have a #1 weekend at the box office, the film slowly propelled past $200 million domestically thanks to strong word-of-mouth and gross holding that slowly led to wider releases. One of the reasons behind its success is the sharp indie-film dialogue and avoiding many of the pitfalls that plague other romantic comedies like Hollywood Homely (Nia Vardalos is attractive but not the typical bombshell, giving her makeover more plot relevance than others) and the "teary-eyed breakup due to a misunderstanding."
Followed up by an unmemorable TV sitcom, My Big Fat Greek Life.
Provides examples of:
"Oh. Woe to me. Business is bad."
- Beautiful All Along
- Bilingual Bonus
- Black Sheep: Toula.
- Closer to Earth: Toula's mother, compared to her father. When Toula announces she's getting married, her father has a Heroic BSOD while her mother tries to convince him nothing's wrong with it.
- California Doubling: A movie about events that took place in Winnipeg, written by a Winnipeg writer, starring a Winnipeg actress... was set in Chicago and filmed primarily in Toronto.
- Close Knit Community
- Converting for Love: Ian, to Greek Orthodoxy. Since the Church isn't used to adults converting, he is baptised in a kiddie-pool.
- Actually, there are plenty of adult conversions. You wear a white gown, not bathing trunks, then dress in a special outfit afterwards. There are special tubs for adult baptisms.
- Culture Clash / Not So Different: The entire point of the movie is An Aesop about this, with plenty of opportunity for jokes along the way.
- Cultural Posturing: There is nothing that Mr. Portokalos can't trace back to Greece. Even kimonos.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Toula, when she first sees Ian. Later Ian when he sees Toula in the tour office, leads to a brutal beatdown by an old lady.
- Engagement Challenge
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Toula's dress, even though with the veil it looks overdone.
- Fake Nationality: Multiple examples.
- Nia Vardalos is a Greek-Canadian playing a Greek-American.
- Lainie Kazan is Russian Jewish on her father's side and Turkish Jewish on her mother's side.
- Michael Constantine was born in the United States to Greek immigrant parents.
- Andrea Martin is an Armenian-American; the scene where Rodney & Harriet try to recall the ethnicity of Rodney's secretary, which turns out to be Armenian, may be a reference to this.
- Joey Fatone is Italian-American.
- Fourth Date Marriage
- Fridge Brilliance: What's so weird about an adult converting to Greek Orthodoxy? Nothing if you're in Greece or Turkey, but in America people so inclined would be much more likely to become Roman Catholics.
- You'd be surprised.
- Fun with Foreign Languages
- Glad You Thought of It - The best way to get Gus's consent is to let him think it was his idea.
- The Glasses Gotta Go
- Greasy Spoon: The Portokalos establishment is an excellent example of a Greek-American diner in the city.
- Happily Married: Toula's parents. Probably Ian's parents.
- And Ian and Toula, as shown in the Distant Finale.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Chris in the Morning from Northern Exposure (as Ian). Also, some of the actors from This Is Wonderland. Also, Joey Fatone from N'Sync.
- Hilarity Ensues: Every time Ian's family tries to interact with Toula's.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: "I'll kill you and Make It Look Like an Accident."
- Subverted in that Toula's male relatives are just messing around with Ian.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Toula's reaction to her wedding dress. "I'm a snow beast."
- Even more so for the bridesmaids' dresses.
- It Runs in The Family: Toula is the only sane Portokalos.
- Lucky Charms Title: My Big Fat Grssk Wedding?
- Meaningful Name: Portokali (πορτοκάλι) is Greek for "orange." Toula's father makes an Incredibly Lame Pun on the resemblance of Ian's name (Miller) to the Greek word for apple (μήλο, milo). Get it?
- Never Mess with Granny: The ouzo-guzzling grandmother is somewhere between this and Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!. On the night before Toula's wedding she gives Toula her wedding garlands and shows her some other keepsakes and photos, whereupon we learn that I Was Quite a Looker.
- Nuclear Family: Greek Americans don't believe in it. At least not the Portokalos.
- Truth in Television for many immigrants.
- Odd Name Out: Almost all of the young family members have the name (or variation) of Anita (including Athena and Angelo), Diane or Nick (including Nikki). The outsider? Toula.
"Costas, Nick, Nick, Nick, Costas..."
"And I am GUS!"
- Old Maid: Toula is only 30, but her parents seem to think she needs to get married right away.
- Her father started calling her old at FOURTEEN!
- This is exaggerated Truth in Television, as any child of Greek immigrants will tell you. It's a pretty common attitude in the Eastern Mediterranean that any woman over 25 who isn't married is an embarrassment to the family.
- Her father started calling her old at FOURTEEN!
- One-Hit Wonder: This was Nia Vardalos's only project to have any sort of success. Her subsequent projects have mostly failed critically and financially.
- One Steve Limit: Aversion: Unlimited Nicks.
- And Nikki.
- Note that this is partly Truth in Television, as Greek children are traditionally named after their grandparents. Obviously it doesn't usually get that bad, but still.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: Toula goes into a long rant about her stifling family environment when her Greek ethnicity is brought up in conversation.
- Real Life Relative: Ian Gomez, Nia's real life husband who was directly involved with the inspiration for the movie, plays a friend of the groom.
- Leads to an Actor Allusion, as Ian Gomez's character flatly states that there's no way that a gorgeous woman like Toula would even look at a guy like him.
- Real Men Eat Meat: Ian is a vegetarian and Toula's family is naturally shocked by this. Leads to a Crowning Moment of Funny:
"What do you mean, you don't eat no meat? ... That's okay, I make lamb.
- Running Gag: Gus Portokalos thinks Windex is the solution to everything.
- Becomes a bit of a Brick Joke at the end of the film when Ian sprays some on a wedding-day zit and it actually works.
- Sleeper Hit: Turned a $5 million budget and a limited release into a $241 million domestic tally, thanks in part to such great word-of-mouth that the movie stayed in the top 10 weekly box office for over three months, gradually getting a wider release with each passing week due to its success. Some of the films it outgrossed on its shoestring budget: Austin Powers in Goldmember, Men in Black II, and Die Another Day.
- Stay in the Kitchen: At the start, Toula's dad believes she should do this. As the film progresses, it appears to be more of "stay in the enclave", and applies to his son as well: Greeks hang out with Greeks, marry Greeks, work at the family business, and so forth.
- Tactful Translation: Unimpressed with Ian's attempt to wish him a happy Easter ("Cheestro Nasty!"), Gus mutters in Greek, "My people were writing philosophy when your people were still swinging in trees." At Ian's confused look, Toula says, "He likes you."
- The Other Darrin: Nia Vardalos and most of Toula's family came along for the TV series, but Michael Vartan had to be recast.
- There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: "...Greeks, and everybody else who wish they were Greek."
- Truth in Television: As any Greek-American who's seen the film will readily tell you. And not only them.
- Indeed. This movie was a big hit because America is a nation of immigrants meaning that a whole lot of us have wacky ethnic relatives - which ethnicity doesn't really matter because they are ALL like Toula's family, in their own way.
- The Windy City
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Well, Toula is a female - but the same concept applies.
- It's hinted that Toula's brother Nick (who apparently wants to study art) has similar issues.
- What Could Have Been: Tom Hanks helped produce the film but found some difficulty getting it made. The studios liked the idea but wanted to cut the "Big," "Fat," and "Greek" part out and cast someone like Jennifer Lopez in the main role (as a thirty year old woman who has trouble dating, yeah). That's the reason it went indie and turned out the way it did.
- When I Was Your Age
Maria Portokalos: "Nicko! Don't play with the food! When I was your age, we didn't have food!"