HTF REVIEW: "My Big FAT Greek Wedding" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    My Big FAT Greek Wedding

    Studio: HBO
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG
    Film Length: 95 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    and Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish and Greek

    Love is here to stay... so is her family.

    You can talk all you want about the top grossing
    films of 2002 that included Spider-Man, Lord
    Of The Rings
    and Star Wars AOTC. But
    the real film that is worthy of talking about is
    My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the perfect example
    of a little film that could. In fact My Big Fat
    Greek Wedding
    is single-handedly the biggest
    Hollywood success story ever -- the highest
    earning independent film in history earning in
    excess of 230.9 million dollars worldwide. That's
    quite an achievement when you consider the film
    was shot for just $5 million.

    Over the past year, you couldn't help but hear
    something about this film. In fact, this
    feel-good romantic comedy became an out-of-nowhere
    blockbuster just by viewers spreading the word. In
    fact, word-of-mouth and repeated viewings kept the
    movie remaining in the top 20 nine months after its
    initial release.

    I have to admit, I was just as curious as everyone
    else about this movie, but I decided to wait until
    the DVD was released to give this film a viewing.
    Now that I have seen it, I can truly understand how
    this romantic comedy about a young Greek-American
    woman who seeks to persuade her family to accept her
    non-Greek future husband became such a worldwide
    success. In short, it's a well-written story with
    a terrific ensemble cast who portray outrageously
    funny characters -- all people you're happy to
    spend time with.


    This is the story of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos),
    a very plain, overweight and unhappy 30-year-old
    single daughter of Greek immigrants who still lives
    at home and works in the family restaurant as a
    seating hostess. Her family is extremely Orthodox
    and expect her to "marry a Greek boy, make Greek
    babies and feed everyone until the day we die."


    Her father Gus (Michael Constantine) is a very
    loving man who believes Windex can cure almost
    any ailment. His philosophy in life is that "there
    are two kinds of people in this world -- Greeks
    and everyone else who wishes they were Greek."
    More than anything, Gus and his wife Maria (Lainie
    Kazan),wants their daughter to get married to a
    nice Greek boy and have babies.


    Toula finally decides that enough is enough! She
    goes to computer school, learns some makeup tips
    and visits a hair stylist. She also meets a handsome
    English-teacher dreamboat named Ian Miller (John
    Corbett), who adores her. They date. They fall in
    love. But how far can it go, with him being a


    As you would expect, Toula's parents immediately
    reject the relationship though they are unable to
    change their daughter's mind. Toula and Ian
    begrudgingly move onto the next step-- planning a
    big fat Greek wedding, which proves to be more
    of a challenge than the couple intended.

    This movie is actually based on an autobiographical
    one-woman show written by Nia Vardalos. It was
    actress Rita Wilson (wife of Tom Hanks) that fell
    in love with the show and pushed to have the story
    brought to the big screen. It was produced by Tom
    Hanks and his partner Gary Goetzman.

    I have to admit, though the film didn't provide
    as many laughs as I had expected, I was having the
    time of my life watching the film's outrageous cast
    of characters, most notably, Toula’s meddling aunt
    (Andrea Martin) who practically steals every scene
    she's in. Though the family is at its craziest,
    it's sort of reassuring to know that they all love
    each other very much.

    How is the transfer?

    One must keep in mind that My Big Fat Greek
    was a low-budget independent film
    production. I say this, because while the overall
    transfer is quite acceptable, it doesn't live up
    to the polished look of more expensive blockbusters.
    Though the print looks clean and mostly blemish-free,
    it looks a bit drab. Images aren't overly sharp,
    often seeming just a tad unfocused. There's a hint
    of background noise throughout the film, and colors
    seem to have a slightly muted look to them. This
    isn't a bad transfer by any means, but as I stated,
    it just doesn't have the brilliance and nice texture
    that most of the "A" titles being released on DVD
    have. I have a feeling this transfer is a very
    accurate representation of how the film looked


    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix isn't much to talk about.
    Audio remains mostly in the front channels, where
    dialogue and action are accurately placed. As far
    as effect noises go, the rears don't add much
    support. The problem seems to be that the sound
    level in the rear channels are much lower than
    what I hear on other titles, so when there are
    ambient noises, it doesn't come through as
    distinctly. On the other hand, the rears do
    provide support for Chris Wilson and Alexander
    Janko's festive Greek score.

    Special Features


    My Big Fat Greek Wedding contains both
    WIDESCREEN and FULL FRAME versions that can be
    chosen following the film's Main Menu.

    You know, I was just appalled at the fact that this
    year's most successful film has gotten such a shabby
    treatment for its DVD release. Other than the fact
    that it contains a feature commentary, there is
    nothing else to be had. You mean to tell me that
    there were no promotional featurettes available?
    How about a trailer for God's sake! This is certainly
    a wedding thrown by cheapskates!

    So let's talk about the DVDs only admirable feature,
    the audio commentary by stars Nia Vardalos
    (Toula), John Corbett (Ian) and director Joel Zwick.
    It begins as Nia talks about this small little film
    that the studio couldn't afford to advertise, so it
    opened up in a very small circle of theaters where
    it received incredible word-of-mouth. I had no
    idea that Nia was an alumni of Second City, known for
    playing dumpy-like woman characters. Joel Zwick
    talks about the Greek diner setting which was
    actually built on-location in a Supermarket. It's
    kind of funny to hear Nina talk about her own life
    and how closely it compares to the life of her
    character, Toula. In fact, a lot of her personal
    life experiences went into the character. Both
    John and Joel give us some little tidbits about
    the manner in which they filmed -- for instance,
    it's interesting to learn that many of the footage
    inside the Portokalos home were filmed weeks apart,
    though they appear as one seamless 10-minute scene.
    Nia just dominates this entire commentary, which
    is sort of nice as she gives us some interesting
    background on Greek culture, holidays and customs.
    The film really is an accurate portrayal of what
    a typical noisy Greek family is all about.

    There is a rather extensive cast bio here,
    giving some nice text history of all the major
    cast members. It just falls short of being
    perfect for the fact that it doesn't list a full
    resume of all the films each actor has appeared in.

    Final Thoughts


    My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the film, is full
    of chutzpah -- a pure delight from beginning to end.
    Unfortunately, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the
    DVD, comes up a little short in the Special Features
    department. Still, I won't hesitate a second to
    recommend this gentle good hearted film to everyone.

    I'd like to take this quick moment to thank HBO
    for giving me the opportunity to review this
    title. The studio doesn't normally send me screener
    product, and it is my hope that I will be reviewing
    more of their product in the near future. By the
    way, the pastries you sent along with the DVD were

    Release Date: February 11, 2003

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

    Mar 14, 1999
    Likes Received:
    My wife saw MBFGW a couple of weeks ago at a second run theater, and has been very insistent that we buy it (we don't have enough "chick" DVDs in the house.) I'll be picking it up, despite the lack of features...
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
    Likes Received:
  4. Jedrek

    Jedrek Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Well, when seeing this film, I liked it, but felt it was EXTREMELY overated. It was enjoyable, but I probably won't watch it again.
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:

    If you're not going to watch it again then why are you posting in this thread?

  6. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Metro NYC
    Real Name:
    Actually, this wonderful little "sleeper" has made close to $300 million

    I wish I had made that much at my wedding![​IMG]
  7. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

    Sep 30, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Utah USA
    Real Name:
    Wes Peterson
  8. Tony-B

    Tony-B Producer

    Jun 30, 2002
    Likes Received:
  9. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Supporting Actor

    Dec 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I'm disappointed in the DVD features as well, but will be picking it up anyway. It's not the first barebones disc I'll end up owning.

    I'm not suprised in the lack of promotonal materials, but considering this $5 million movie made so much, why they couldn't they go back and produce "Making My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is beyond me. Not like it would cost them much to do it, either. And why is the trailer not present? Also, I'm quite suprised there's nothing on the disc regarding the upcoming CBS TV show.

    But oh well, at least it presents the film in very fine fashion. I saw it twice in theaters and Ron, the screenshots you posted are very reflective of what I saw. I'm sure to be pleased in the A/V departments, and this one will make a great DVD to use for WS vs. P&S converions when I have Joe Six Packs over who don't know the differece. (Of ourse, that's rare, cause I don't have a lot of people over, but...point taken, I presume.)
  10. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Supporting Actor

    Dec 21, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Ron - what kind of case does this come in?

    I hope it's a keepcase, but knowing HBO it's probably not.
  11. Jefferson

    Jefferson Supporting Actor

    Apr 23, 2002
    Likes Received:
    I really enjoyed it. I'll definitely pick it up.
  12. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Jan 12, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    I'm ALL OVER this! I love feel-good movies like this that have alot of rewatchability to them. In a world where alot of mean spirited movies get released, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a breath of fresh air. [​IMG]
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
    Likes Received:
  14. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor

    Apr 19, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Metro NYC
    Real Name:
    I see a Big Fat Special Edition in the future.

    And more pastries.:b
  15. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    I'm sure that the producers of the film wanted to be sure to get this out on home video in time to promote the 2/24 (thirteen days later!) debut of the new TV series, My Big Fat Greek Life. It picks up directly after the honeymoon, and stars most of the film cast. Rita Wilson and The Sopranos's Brad Grey are the exec producers.

    So if the DVD is a bit stripped-down, that may be why. I don't have a clue if they'll double-dip it as an SE later on; I guess that just depends on circumstances.

    In the meantime, this is one of the few upcoming DVDs I will find some room in my budget for. I've heard so many wonderful things about the film itself, which Ron confirms, and as he states the transfer is indicitive of the actual theater experience (makes sense on that budget), then I will go for it. I'm sure me and the missus will enjoy it; we love this sort of film.
  16. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter

    Nov 14, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Nia Vardalos was not on SCTV. She was a member of the Second City comedy troupe. SCTV's cast was made up of alum from the Second City troupe from Toronto.

    As for the movie, it was fine. I think the reason it did so well was because the vast majority of Hollywood Romantic Comedies of late have been terrible. MBFGW was sweet and simple and not mean-spirited. It wasn't a work of genius, though. It was just fine. I enjoyed it, but can't say that I'd watch it again.
  17. John Gido

    John Gido Second Unit

    Jun 18, 2001
    Likes Received:
    This is a definite purchase for me. My wife and I loved it in the theater. Feb 11th can't come soon enough!

    Dave, I was unaware that a TV series is slated to be released after the DVD. I hope it at least equals the popularity of the film and does not go the way of "Delta House" (and Animal House TV take-off).
  18. Mark Hanson

    Mark Hanson Agent

    May 4, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Cannot wait. As a couple who has one half that was open enough that its half should marry a nice Scandinavian girl and have kids, well it beats one country. The other half was supposed to meet a nice Philippine boy and have even more kids. Since it is us as part of both families with one kid, this was so funny and real. For couples like us, which there are many, this goes beyond funny to reality, smiling at each other secretly during the whole film since each character has its counterpart in our lives.

    For those married without the twist we have it will be funny but not with the secret glances we gave each other throughout the movie that took it beyond the normal film like this for us. For another audience without as deep a family or relationships, it may be why did this film get so popular.

    But for those who have been part of different backgrounds getting married. My sister was reminded of getting married to a tough guy from a tough city family in our country town on opening day of deer season. She has now forgiven me for the large group of hunters waking every one up at 5AM and the incidents surrounding it. Well the wedding was not until 1PM, what did she expect.

    So look at it that way and enjoy it like it was meant to be without hyperanalysis and you will get it.
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

    Oct 31, 1997
    Likes Received:
    This is a definite immediate purchase for me. I think that many ethnicities can identify with this story, not just Greek-Americans. My family (we're Filipino) has quite a few characters that resembled the ones in MBFGW and I could totally sympathize with just about everything onscreen, as could my girlfriend (who is Chinese and who has her fair share of kooky relatives). In fact, my best friend comes from a big Italian family (3rd generation, though) and he could totally identify! I know this film will be making its way into at least a half-dozen of my friends' households!
  20. Jonathan Burk

    Jonathan Burk Second Unit

    May 31, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Castaic, CA
    Real Name:
    Jonathan Burk
    I was pleasantly surprised by this film, and I felt it lived up to the "hype" of being the most popular romantic comedy of all time. I was really cynical about the whole thing going in, but I was totally won over after 5 minutes, and just laughed and laughed for the rest of the show.

    There is definitely a lot of talent involved in making a film this funny and heartfelt, and yet making it look so easy.

Share This Page