When a film does decently at the box office, filmmakers often consider sequels. Sometimes, the sequel pays off, and other times not. If a second film bombs, it’s best to let the series lie, but despite abysmal reviews, for number two, the makers of the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise have made a third one, and it is not much better than the second and far removed from the first. Writer/director/star Nia Vardalos returns with My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, bringing back several familiar faces and adding a few new ones to the mix.
This time, the Portokalos family, on the heels of the patriarch Gus (the late Michael Constantine) passing, plans a family trip to Greece to carry out her father’s wish that his childhood friends get his journal. Toula (Vardalos) takes husband Ian (John Corbett), daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris), brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), and Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) to a remote village in Greece. They are joined by Aristotle (Elias Kacavas), Paris’s estranged boyfriend, and we are introduced to an array of quirky characters and oddball situations. The mayor, Victory (Melina Kotselou) hopes the family reunion and the influx of people will save her dying village.
True to form, the family falls into outrageous situations, many of them they create, and a few laughs do come. Varadalos struggles to find the storylines to make this sequel necessary, relying heavily on the loss of Gus and her mother’s dementia and a thin story about the journal and childhood friends. The addition of new characters, like the mayor and surprise family members, makes for some silly and seemingly forced twists. Thankfully, the ensemble cast is solid. All of Varadalos’ characters are vibrant and are often engaging and funny. She stays true to the themes of family strength and connections and plays well with the craziness that comes with a huge and extended family.
Despite Vardalos’ best efforts, the first film’s charm is missing. This is not to say that the movie is a total wash. I found My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 cute and watchable and nods to past films do delight. It simply does not stand up to the first. I liked it better than the second in the series, and Vardalos stays true to the franchise, making it colorful, celebratory, and eager to entertain. It often does, even in its silliness. There’s something to be said for that. I am placing 3 stars up top. Based on the open-ish ending and new characters, I wonder if Varadalos has plans for a fourth.