You know it’s a weird time for moviegoers, where legacy sequels from the 2000s and 2010s are now old enough to have their own sequels. The concept dates back at least to the 1980s, with Psycho II (1983) and The color of money (1986) reintroducing iconic characters from culturally significant films of the past to a new generation of viewers. However, this 21st century resurgence of an 80s trend (not the only example of such a phenomenon, of course) has seen a new wrinkle unfold as the 1920s progresses: from legacies to legacy.
First of all Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), then Dial of Destiny (2023). The long awaited Toy Story 3 (2010), then toy story 4 (2019) for good measure. The Swan Song by Wes Craven Cry 4 (2011), then the echo Shout (2022) and Cry 6 (2023). Now a third My Fat Greek Wedding. A common theme pervades these nostalgic sequels to respectful reboots: they offer only mere bits and pieces of what made the originals so interesting. It’s like a sort of cinematic equivalent of Plato’s allegory of the cave.
If you don’t remember the events of My Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016) – or, as many will say, you’ve just never seen it – you have no reason to feel bad. I just caught up with the sequel earlier this year, and I’ve already forgotten most of what happened. The final entry makes no effort to catch you, except for an opening montage of stills from the previous two films seen hanging on the wall. (It always makes me laugh to see this kind of thing. Who took these photos? No one had a camera in this scene!) Instead, it’s straight into the action: the patriarch of the Portokalos family, Gus (Michael Constantine) is dead, and his death is imminent. her wish was that her daughter Toula (Nia Vardalos) would give her diary to her three childhood friends in Greece.
Are you accompanying Toula on a trip? Husband Ian (John Corbett), daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), aunts Voila (Andrea Martin) and Frieda (Maria Vacratsis) and Aristotle (Elias Kacavas) — a young man with ambiguous relations with the Portokalos. Is he the son of a family friend? The ex of Paris? A plot convenience? It’s never entirely clear and it never really matters. He is there to be associated with Paris, as evidenced by his introductory scene and every scene he shares thereafter.
Upon arrival, they meet Victory (Melina Kotselou): the would-be mayor of Gus’ hometown who turns out to be one of the six remaining residents after the area’s water supply dries up. What follows is reminiscent of the later acts of the previous films: an alternation of lair scenes and set pieces galore. (And, inevitably, a wedding ceremony.) Jokes miss more often than they hit, and moments of sincerity lack the desired emotion nine times out of ten, but who’s most at fault here? Writer-director-producer-star Nia Vardalos, who has only directed a feature film once in her career, nearly 15 years ago? Or me, the person who expects more from this trilogy that arrives two decades after a first opus that was very sufficient on its own and would certainly have been better off on its own?
If I sound like I’m talking about Vardalos, that’s not intentional. To his honor, My Fat Greek Wedding 3 has its saving graces. Namely the characters of Corbett and Martin. Ian has never had much to do in this series other than stand there and keep his cool, but Corbett does it so well. (See also: his character Aidan Shaw in sex and the city, Sex and the city 2 And And just like that…They keep bringing him back for a reason, you know.) Likewise, Martin makes scene stealing look easy. It’s not surprising either. Her acting skills have been known since her SCTV days in the late 1970s. “I’ll be your favorite,” she tells Victory outside the airport. Unsurprisingly, she’s right.
Aside from the frantic callbacks and mildly pleasant holiday vibe, there’s a mess here with the technical components. The editing is both choppy and rushed, leaving little room for emotional beats (let alone punchlines) to resonate with the audience before the film quickly cuts to the next scene. The camera coverage is equally inconsistent at times, with some shots appearing so out of place that they resemble shrapnel from hastily deleted scenes. The sets and locations feel convincingly lived-in – thanks in large part to on-location filming in beautiful Athens and the surrounding countryside – but that can only take the viewer so far.
Should this movie exist? Were sequels ever needed to get out of the record-breaking, critically acclaimed, sweetly sweet 2002 film? The answer is obviously no. However, this isn’t the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Universe, the Star Wars Universe, or some other billion-dollar franchise spanning dozens of theatrical and streaming releases that require you to keep track of each new addition to the canon. Those who want to see the latest developments in the life of the Portokalos family will show up (and will also show up to learn more after this – myself included). Those who don’t won’t.
There is nothing at stake here. Just 90 minutes of harmless diversion, as tasty as a fast food gyro – and yet, somehow, still vaguely appetizing.