Once upon a time, meek Greek-American Toula (Nia Vardalos) met Wasp-y Adonis Ian (John Corbett) and their nuptials lit up the box-office. The End. Except there’s more money to be made from “To be continued...” which is why a sequel (stonkingly unmemorable and far less profitable) followed. Now we have the shoddy-looking threequel, written but also directed by Vardalos, which pairs anodyne liberalism with predictable pratfalls.
I could try and explain the plot, which involves a family vacation, a father’s dying wish, a match-making plot, a sex scandal, trouble at NYU, much to-ing and fro-ing on ferries and a village re-union. But, ach, let’s just say, Chicago-based Toula and Ian, and a bunch of their relatives and friends, are on a Greek island. And the weather’s scorchio.
Problems like drought and xenophobia are solved in the blink of an eye. All that’s needed is for people to pull together (Toula and the gang literally tug on a rope to fix a crisis that has bedevilled the village for months). Meanwhile, a radiantly attractive Syrian character, Qamar (Stephanie Nur) is the Stepford Wives version of a refugee. Qamar has shiny eyes and a perma-smile. She’s terrifying.
Then there’s the narrative thread concerning blonde love interest Aristotle (Elias Kacavas). The spit of Troy Donahue, Aristotle attends NYU with Toula and Ian’s daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris). Though Toula’s aunts barely know him, they decide the youngster is a keeper and trick him into coming to Greece. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula fights for the right to choose her own mate. Here, the invasive aunties are “better than a dating app”. They’re watching and know what you need. Sweet baby Jesus, how is that not sinister?
Those who dismiss the first film are snobs. Many of the lines thought up by Vardalos (who based the Portokalos clan on her own passionately oppressive immigrant family) had edge, while the performances were spry. The late Michael Constantine, as Toula’s dad, Gus, put real welly into a line about Ian’s patronising parents: “They look at us like we’re animals in a zoo!”
Here there are actual animals. When a giddy goat clops out of the frame, you may find yourself thinking, “Come back!” Unlike the rest of the cast, it’s not over-acting.
Suffice to say, the fact that Gus’s ashes feature heavily in the third act feels apt. Time to bury this franchise.
91mins, cert 12A