Over the last five months, one movie has traveled an unconventional path toward the top of the box office. My Big Fat Greek Wedding opened on about a hundred screens and started a wave of big fat word-of-mouth raves—the best kind of publicity. On Labor Day, it reached number one. This astonishing success has baffled industry analysts and earned quite a profit. Cost: $5 million. Box office totals: more than $82.6 million so far. Perhaps Hollywood has forgotten the strength of such special effects as warmth, laughs, insight, and uplift—virtues hard to find in an action-saturated multiplex.
Where did this unconventional big screen hit come from? The story goes that Rita Wilson—a comedienne, actress, and Greek American—was so charmed by Nia Vardalos's stage show, she talked her husband into producing a version for the screen. When your husband happens to be Tom Hanks, you have some advantages.
This warm-hearted, four-course comedy tells the story of a young woman, Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), whose pending marriage provokes her Greek family to prepare a traditionally lavish event. As the family learns that her fiancé is not Greek, the differences between the family's expectations and Toula's intentions stir up a scandal. There is an assumption that Toula will follow the traditional path: marry Greek, have Greek children, and work in the kitchen to fill the family bellies.
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) writes, "While My Big Fat Greek Wedding pokes obvious fun at Greeks and some of their idiosyncrasies, it never once turns ugly or mean spirited. At the root of all the jokes and witty observations is a recognizable love and fondness ...1