A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a crowd-pleasing culture-clash romantic comedy. There's a non-graphic sexual situation, but it's clear that Toula and Ian wait until they're really committed before sleeping together. Characters drink beer and wine, and while at a party, Ian's parents are introduced to ouzo and overindulge. Occasional profanity includes "ass," "jagoff," and "bite me," and Toula's brother teaches Ian Greek phrases such as "I have three testicles" and "nice boobs," which he tells him mean something innocuous. Positive messages include the importance of family and finding a balance between independence and remaining connected to your roots.
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What's the story?
In MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Nia Vardalos plays Toula, the shy, plain daughter of a loving but overpowering Greek family. Her family believes that Greek girls are meant to marry Greek boys, have Greek babies, and cook a lot of Greek food. In the unlikely event that they don't get married, they're expected to work in the family business -- in this case, a Greek restaurant. But Toula dreams of more, and with the help of her mother and aunt, she manages to get her dad thinking it's his idea to have her go back to school and get a different job in her aunt's travel agency. Toula starts not only to bloom but to glow, attracting the attention of Ian, a handsome teacher (Sex and the City's John Corbett).
Is it any good?
Viewers will fall in love with Nia Vardalos and her family, too; they're an irresistible force, and she's just plain irresistible. And the story behind My Big Fat Greek Wedding is as remarkable as the film itself. Actress/writer Vardalos created a one-woman show about her Greek family and their response when she married a man who wasn't Greek. Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson (who's Greek), saw the show and decided to make it into a movie with Vardalos playing herself.
Vardalos and director Joel Zwick balance the specifics of the Greek-American culture with the transcendent universalities of family dynamics, and Vardalos and Corbett have a believable sweetness with each other. The movie is riotously funny but heart-catchingly touching, and it will make you want to go back and hug everyone you're related to. This is a terrific choice for families with older tweens: The romance is age-appropriate, and the characters are great role models for how to fall in love and treat each other right. This is one movie where no surprises lurk. Just grab the popcorn, put the phones away, and enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about cultural differences. Do you know families where the couples come from different backgrounds? How have those differences created problems or opportunities for new, blended traditions?
What are some of the elements that make My Big Fat Greek Wedding a romantic comedy? How is it similar to and different from other romantic comedies?
How does the movie portray Greek-American culture? Where might it have been exaggerated for the sake of comedy? Where did it seem like an accurate reflection?
Once Toula receives a makeover, she's able to find a husband. Can you think of other movies in which an "ugly duckling" gets a new look and suddenly enjoys a better life? What message does that send about body image?
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