For a second sequel to a hit movie that had a specific moment more than 20 years ago, starring a cast that mostly doesn’t have much else to do these days, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is surprisingly winning and charming.
The original My Big Fat Greek Wedding was one of those stories where an obscure performer made the role of a lifetime. Nia Vardalos wrote, directed and starred in a film that paid tribute to her own loud, pushy, and expansive Greek-American family, as they resist but ultimately embrace her non-Greek fiancé (John Corbett). The original movie had an appeal that went far beyond just those of Greek extraction, and it ended up the surprise box office hit of 2002.
The second film arrived in 2016, and now there’s a third, once again directed by Vardalos and bringing back the entire cast (minus Michael Constantine, who played her father and died in 2021). The new movie has the entire family traveling to their father’s Greek hometown following his death, seeking to deliver a diary to his three childhood friends.
Vardalos and Corbett are back as the central couple; between this and the Sex and the City series And Just Like That, it’s been a season of John Corbett revisiting all of his romantic entanglements from decades past. They’re with their daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), born at the end of the first movie and now a college freshman. The aunts and uncles are back too, played by the likes of Louis Mandylor, Andrea Martin and Maria Vacratsis, and the script gives them all lots of very funny lines. There are plenty of surprises, and a bit of drama, but as always with this series, everyone forgives each other and gets along eventually.
Is this one of those movies that feels a lot like an excuse by everyone involved to take a paid vacation to an exotic locale? You bet, and I felt bad for Lainie Kazan, as the mom, who didn’t go to go Greece with the others. But the film uses its Greek locations well, and finds some outstanding actors to place the Greek roles. They’re led by Melina Kotselou, who just about walks away with the film as “Victory,” the exuberant mayor of the small town who, it’s hinted, is nonbinary.
There’s a lot that doesn’t add up. This large family taking a trip to a foreign country hasn’t prepared at all, including not having hotels lined up. The trip is predicated on the idea that they’ll be able to locate a trio of old men who they’ve never bet before, somewhere in Greece, and these three 80-year-olds will all end up still alive and able to travel.
There’s the inevitable wedding, but it ends up being between two characters we’ve never met before. And the entire payoff of the hand-the-diary-to-the-old-friends plot is dispensed with as part of a montage, and we’re never told what was in the diary or why it was important.
But the film’s so charming that none of that really matters.