After seeing the horrendous pre-promotional poster for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 I’ll admit my expectations for the movie were low, but now having watched it I’ve realised the cringe was all a ploy to lower the bar enough for anything on screen to feel like elevation.
Following on from the 2016 sequel to 2002’s surprise hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 recaps the earlier years of the Portokalos family before taking a trip to Greece, where Toula (Nia Vardalos), Ian (John Corbett) and their entourage try to connect to old friends to fulfill one of her father’s dying wishes.
Where the second movie felt like a bad anti-ageing ad, the third is truer to life with wrinkles allowed to show, un-dyed hair acknowledged and the legitimate challenges of caring for ageing parents confronted. The emotion of it all still matches the comedic tone of the franchise, but there’s no denying this is a family in a new season of life with a patriarch who’s passed and a mum dealing with dementia.
In trying to update the story for a 2023 audience, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 introduces its first non-binary character with village mayor Victory (Melina Kotselou) accepted into the fold by an enthusiastic Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) who’s fine with “girls or boys clothes” and “alternative lifestyles”.
Victory is the instigator of a local reunion which aims to bring people who have left the village back home, adding another dimension to the film about the importance of our familial roots and the real issues small towns face when younger generations all choose to leave.
Combine that with a thread about Syrian immigration that overlaps with an emerging love story for Toula and Ian’s daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), and there’s a lot of touch points My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is trying to address.
Three films in, some of the innocent attraction of “every word coming from a Greek word” and Ian being the non-Greek vegetarian is lost in their use as nostalgic triggers, but there’s a charm in knowing that’s how families are: they wheel out the same jokes every Christmas, everyone laughs, and everyone pretends again they haven’t heard them before.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 doesn’t reach the same heights as number one, but certainly rises above the ones set for it by the poster.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 is in cinemas now.