It’s been 14 years, but Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her smothering, squabbling and lovable family return in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” which opened in theaters this weekend. The first film earned $368 million and became the most successful independent rom-com in history.
In the intervening years, Toula now finds herself in the sandwich generation. She’s depressed that her daughter will soon be off to college and no longer need her, while her elderly parents, Gus and Maria Portokalis (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan), require her attention too much. Boomers can relate. A little harder to understand is how Toula can neglect her husband, played by the handsome John Corbett.
The whole cast returns for the sequel, including John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Joey Fatone, Andrea Martin and Michael Constantine. New to the production is Elena Kampouris, who plays Toula’s teenage daughter Paris, and British director Kirk Jones (“Nanny McPhee”).
Except for Kazan and Constantine, the stars of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” turned up for a press conference recently at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in midtown Manhattan.
Several days later, Vardalos and Kampouris attended a Mamarazzi screening and Talk Back with the Moms Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein, sponsored by Windex and Fujifilm Instax. That event, which took place at the New York Institute of Technology in midtown, was attended by enthusiastic mothers and their adorable kids.
At the Mandarin Oriental press conference, Corbett and Vardalas, who look as though they haven’t aged since the first film, had the same easy camaraderie and chemistry in person that you see onscreen.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – 14 Years After the First Movie
Naturally, the first question posed by journalists was why the sequel took 14 years.
“The wait of the sequel is entirely my fault. I apologize,” said Vardalos, looking terrific in a mini green dress. “At the end of the first movie, Toula and Ian were parents. In reality, the struggle to become a parent was real for me. It was very long, and then I did become a mom. Happy Ending!”
Vardalos went on to say that she cried on her daughter’s first day at kindergarten. “I was crying so hard and so loud that other moms were backing away from me. And somebody said, ‘Hey, c’mon, in 13 years they’re going to go off to college. What’s the big deal?’”
Vardalos made a gagging sound and went, “Whattttt?” And that’s the moment that I might have had the idea for the sequel. I went away and started writing that day.”
Vardalos chronicled her struggles to become a mother, including fertility treatments that failed and success through fostering a three year-old girl, in her bestseller, “Instant Mom.” It was while she was on the book tour that the movie further crystallized in her mind.
“I saw myself snaked around the line at the bookstore, a mom my age with a child on one side, and aging parents on the other – if we’re lucky – the sandwich generation, and that’s really informed my writing.”
Vardalos said she was grateful that the idea for the sequel, and making the film came out at the right time. “What I went through informed my writing and let me go deeper with this next one, and we weren’t afraid of that. We weren’t afraid to show what a real marriage can be like, and we weren’t afraid to show that this family has aged and that’s okay,” she laughed.
The cast members are older, but still look great. “They jumped aboard immediately,” she said, not ruling out a trilogy but said she would not wait 14 years because she wanted to use the same cast members.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – a Feel-Good Movie
Corbett noted of the sequel, “This is also a feel good movie. Nia’s smart enough not to give anyone a real life dose of cancer to battle in this one. It’s not ‘My Big Fat Greece Divorce.’ It’s just more of the same, and that’s what people are going to walk into the theater wanting.”
Asked by a youngster at the Mamarazzi event which of the two films was her favorite, replied Vardalos, “I love the first movie because it’s like that first boyfriend you ever have. You remember your first kiss. But the second movie has so much clarity and depth for me because I am a mom, and for the first time I’m playing a mom to a nice Greek girl, so I’ve got to say it’s the second one for me.”
At the Mamarazzi event – Windex was included in the goody bags – Vardalos explained the importance of the cleaning product in her family. “When I was growing up, my dad had a wart on the back of his hand and he accidentally got Windex on it. I guess he was cleaning his windshield. And the wart started to go away. I don’t know why it worked. When I got to puberty and I had a pimple on my forehead my dad said put Windex on it.” Vardalos admitted, “That may have been going too far.”
See “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” in theaters now and check out the official website.