The first time I watched the original My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I had yet to meet the man who would give me a big fat Greek family of my own.
So, while I enjoyed the comedy about Toula, a Greek woman living in Chicago with her close-knit family as she attempts to navigate a new relationship with a non-Greek man, I did not for a moment think that real Greek families could be anything like the Portokaloses!
When I watched the film for the second time – then very much involved in my own Grenglish relationship – I cried laughing at the endearing similarities these characters paid to so many of the real people I had met.
Aunt Voula’s famous quote in the first film “What do you mean he don’t eat no meat? Oh, that’s okay. I make lamb” could have come straight from the mouth of Yiayia! We all still crack up at the time she cooked sausages for a veggie guest, who had been invited for lunch.
There was also the time when Yiayia insisted the whole family gathered in a bookshop in Cambridge to look at a book that her daughter, Maria, had edited, just because her name appeared in tiny print on the sleeve.
It is fair to say that we are all huge fans of the original film, so the news of a sequel stirred some excitement in the family – we had to stop them from following us to an advance screening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 that Eva and I were lucky enough to have been invited to earlier this week.
The next instalment in the Portokalos story picks up some 10-years later, with Toula and her husband, Ian, now married with a teenage daughter and living next door to her ageing parents.
Not only is the couple dealing with their daughter about to go off to college and all the emotions this brings, they also have to contend with her rebellion against her Greek roots and her grandparent’s desire for her to settle down with a nice Greek boy.
Between this, the needs of Toula’s extended family, and working long hours in the family restaurant, the couple is finding it difficult to find time for each other.
It also later transpires that Toula’s parents, Gus and Maria, are not legally married after all, as their wedding certificate was never actually signed by the priest some 50-years ago! Of course, they have to get married again and, of course, nothing goes to plan and it is up to the whole family to try and make it happen.
There’s a brilliant scene when Toula ropes in Aunt Voula to help get her parents down the aisle but all her aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, in-laws and friends turn up for a summit meeting. Toula expresses surprise that everyone else is there, prompting possibly the funniest line of the film – “Telephone, telegram, tell-a-Greek” – and we both rolled about laughing, as it felt so familiar.
It is impossible to keep secrets in our Greek family. Everything is out in the open and everyone has an opinion. Far from being annoying, it is part of its charm.
As fans of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, we were not disappointed with the sequel and although the follow-up sticks closely to the original format, the loving Portokalos family is still just as enchanting.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is in cinemas from Friday 25 March.