Big fat target missed in this sequel

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Universal Pictures)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Universal Pictures)

Sequels don't have to be terrible. They can bring back beloved characters from the first installment, revisit important themes and carry on seamlessly with the natural course of the original story-line, while still retaining all of the old charm. Sadly, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" did none of that.

What was most disappointing about this film is the fact that this didn't have to be another unnecessary sequel. Fans of the original film (and I'm not at all embarrassed to admit I count myself among that crowd) will be disappointed to learn that the story of Toula Portokalos (played by Nia Vardalos), a woman who, in an endeavor to retain an identity and find happiness in her life, decided to detach herself from the plans her family had for her and make her own path, takes a back seat in this film. Instead, the sequel puts the crude, obnoxious antics of Toula's family front and center, as scene after scene of her cartoonish family members involved in various hijinks carries the film along, rather than the story doing the heavy lifting.

I mentioned before that this needn't be an unnecessary sequel; it would have made perfect sense to carry on with the story of Toula, now several years into her marriage to Ian (John Corbett) and with a teenage daughter, struggling to balance being a good mother and keeping her overbearing family at bay. It could have been the story of a woman, now in her late 40s, trying to rekindle the romance that brought her out of her shell in the first place, all the while battling the threat of her family's encroaching ideology, with the biggest threat of all perhaps being that she may end up just like them - needy, and scared to let go of her independent daughter.

That was almost this movie. That was the basic idea of this movie but, as I said before, Toula took a back seat on this ride while all of the same re-hashed running gags from the original film were all front and center, running (and ruining) the show. By the time the film finally got around to a few touching, story-sustaining scenes, it was far too late. The movie had already sacrificed any chance of being seen as anything other than an obnoxious cash-grab (the original was, after all, the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time), as shameless and unpleasant as the characters themselves.

The film is PG-13, possibly for some of the racier jokes, and runs an hour and 34 minutes. I give it 1-1/2 out of 4 Miners.