Fifteen years after its original release, My Big Fat Greek Wedding remains a classic tale of love and laughter. It’s the definition of a sleeper hit: the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, despite never reaching number one at the American box office, a historic feat.
Nia Vardolos’s screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award and inspired the creation of both a spin-off TV show and a sequel, which is just as side-splittingly funny as the original. The reason for all its success: its human depiction of relationships both familial and romantic are genuine and relatable, meaning that My Big Fat Greek Wedding transcends the usual constraints of the rom-com genre.
Indeed, the natural performance of Vardolos, who is both writer and star performer, can be as a result of her basing much of the story on the trials and tribulations of her own relationship with American actor Ian Gomez. In fact, Gomez’s conversion to the Greek Orthodox Church is in fact the source of inspiration for the iconic swimming pool baptism. Any girl from a multicultural background can empathise with Toula’s struggle to integrate her non-Greek boyfriend into her fiercely proud Greek family.
The obstacles blocking the road to the happy ending could easily apply to any Italian, Spanish, Chinese or Indian family, all of which are cultures embedded with an incredibly tight-knit family dynamic: even your second cousin three times removed is like a brother to you.
Moreover, it is My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s originality which keeps the film fresh. It doesn’t slavishly follow the formulaic plot line of other ‘meeting the parents’ romcoms like Father of the Bride and Meet the Parents (or even Shrek 2), in which paternal disapproval of an unsuitable partner is followed by all kinds of chaos before the final happy denouement. While some may say My Big Fat Greek Wedding is just another emotionally vapid rom-com, its success and enduring relevance suggests otherwise.
Its eclectic ensemble cast make it truly a family affair, and the cultural differences of boyfriend and family are actually legitimate obstacles to marital bliss, unlike the convoluted devices used elsewhere. While scenes such as the cord chaos in the travel agent may seem dated in a world of Skyscanner and Kayak, My Big Fat Greek Wedding continues to show audiences that love overcomes seemingly irreconcilable cultural differences.
I mean, even vegetarianism can be appeased by cooking lamb right, Aunt Voula?