Third time's not the charm for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3
Keeping a franchise going in Hollywood is dependent on a lot of factors, but prime among them is a studio’s willingness to pay for it and an audience’s interest in seeing more of it. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was the surprise hit of 2002, earning over $368 million worldwide and even a screenwriting Oscar nomination for writer/star Nia Vardalos.
Vardalos immediately turned that success into a CBS sitcom, My Big Fat Greek Life, in 2003 … which lasted seven episodes. Thirteen years later, she tried to resurrect the franchise with 2016’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 … and was met with a resounding yawn from both critics and moviegoers. And yet, she’s somehow convinced the right people that an audience exists for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3.
For the first time in the franchise, the title doesn’t refer to just the family of Toula (Vardalos), but also the location, as she, her husband Lan (John Corbett), her brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), her daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), and more have returned to the Greek hometown of the family patriarch for a “reunion.” Except, for most of the film, it’s just them, the town’s mayor, Victory (Melina Kotselou), and a few others.
There is no real plot to speak of from writer/director Vardalos, as it’s just an excuse to string together a bunch of supposedly humorous gags about the unwelcoming nature of one local woman, the boorish personality of Nick, a will they/won’t they with Paris and ex-boyfriend Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), and more. That would be all well and good if the film had any kind of comic timing or charm. Which it doesn’t. Zero.
In fact, the first 30 minutes of the film are shocking in how inept the filmmaking is, with it turning into the equivalent of watching dead air on radio. None of the jokes land, shots are held on characters for unknown strange reasons, and the music sometimes drops out altogether, making the scenes very awkward.
Once they arrive in Greece, there are at least the visuals of the countryside to distract, but Vardalos manages to botch even that. Very few of the scenes take place in objectively picturesque locations, and even those that do don’t take full advantage of the views. Why you would travel all the way to Greece to not make it a love letter to that country is strange indeed.
You would also think that being in Greece would result in fun performances, but almost none of the actors seem like they’re having a good time. The lone exception is Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula, who absolutely slays with her criminally-small amount of screentime. Vardalos has also saddled Toula’s mother, Maria (Lainie Kazan), with dementia, a choice that does neither the actor nor the film any favors.
Much like Adam Sandler setting many of his movies in exotic locations, it feels like Vardalos only made My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 as a way to get her and her cast to Greece. The film itself is a hodgepodge of scenes with little humor or emotion, making it a waste of 90 minutes for anyone unlucky enough to sit through it.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is now playing in theaters.