18 Mar

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

“There are three things that every Greek woman must do in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone.”

-Toula Portokalos

The Set Up

Honestly, we were shocked to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding was getting a sequel. It has been a while since the original (there is probably no one who was even thinking about the original film let alone hoping for a sequel besides maybe Leanna’s coworker, Brett), so it was a surprise to all of us. Since none of us had seen the movie since it came out, or ever, we thought it might be interesting to revisit the original to see if we would at all be interested in watching a sequel to it. Was it as enjoyable as everyone remembers it? Let’s find out…

The Food

Naturally, we cooked Greek food for this movie. We could have taken the time to dive in and find out what is actually served at Greek Weddings, but we figured we would follow our hearts and see what Greek food it yearned for. Turns out, our hearts are way into buttery and flaky dishes. We started off with spanakopita, a flaky pastry filled with feta and spinach. These little paper-football-esque treats were a great way to start off the meal and coincidentally would make perfect finger food appetizers for a buffet-style Greek wedding reception. They were so buttery and flavorful that it was hard not to eat all of them that we cooked.

We served the spanakopita alongside some delicious olives that everyone at Munch HQ absolutely loves. Actually, now that we’re thinking about a Greek buffet and olives, we’d probably have an assortment of olives to choose from to garnish all of our dishes in this fictional buffet we’re describing. Olives are just so great, you guys.

For the main course, we had Greek-style, braised lamb shanks. We cooked these in a combination of wine, gin, anchovies, cinnamon sticks, and mixed vegetables pretty much all afternoon long, and let us just say it was definitely worth it.

The shanks were small, but what they lacked in size, they made up for in unadulterated flavor. The skin was crispy, and the shank was perfectly juicy. Served on a simple bed of plain orzo, this was the kind of meal that we wouldn’t mind being stuck with for the rest of our lives. It was really that good.

Also, we feel like it is worth mentioning that the first time the majority of the ingredients hit the warm skillet and the cinnamon, herbs, and anchovies started to cook, an absolutely incredible smell hits your nostrils. This dish is almost as rewarding to cook as it is to eat.

We added olives to the plating just to round the flavors of the dish, and because olives! Then it was brought to our attention that one member, who shall remain nameless, dislikes olives. In fact, they are actively anti-olive. We are figuring out how to proceed.

Bonus dish: Leanna made some olive bread because we were just really on an olive kick and wanted one more excuse to consume them. It was rustic, perfectly soft and moist on the interior, and the olives that were sprinkled throughout the loaf added a nice saltiness and flavor throughout the bread. Even the olive-hater in our midst had several slices (picking out the olives, of course) and commented that he enjoyed the overall taste the olives provided.

We switched it up a bit for dessert and made a bundt inspired by that famous scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the WASP couple (Ian’s parents) bring a bundt cake to a Greek party and the Greeks have no idea what it is or why the cake has a hole in it. To be honest, we’re not sure why bundt cakes have the hole either, but we agree that it makes a perfect flower holder.

While the bundt cake in the original film doesn’t have any frosting on it, we couldn’t bring ourselves to eat a frosting-less bundt cake so we we added some to our pistachio, rose, and rhubarb bundt cake. It was moist and delicious, with a wonderful rose flavor to it.

The Drinks

Toula’s father’s use of Windex was a recurring, maybe even overused, heck we will even go out on a limber here and say bad, joke in this movie, which we can only imagine has no basis in reality. Nevertheless, it served as perfect inspiration for our drink of the night: Windex.

Now our Windex just happens to be made with DeKuyper’s Island Pucker Punch, lime, and Oola Citrus Vodka, and it tastes just like fruit punch. Although we did not test to find out, we can only imagine Windex tastes very similar as they have such similar coloring.

Oh, and feel free to pair some olives with this dish. And now that we’re at the end of the edible portion of this blog post, we might as well go ahead and name the olive-hating culprit: André! To be honest, Ben and Leanna were just trying to add olives to everything hoping he just gets used to them. Or maybe it’s just to actively spite him. We have olive needs!

André also wrote the first draft of this post and has no idea how much Ben and Leanna added about olives. He probably won’t be happy when he reads this. We’ll let you know.

The Rules

We decided to eschew our typical three rule structure for something a little different:

  1. Drink whenever a word from the title is mentioned.

Spoiler Alert: you’re going to wish you never heard the word “Greek” once you’re done with this. If you want to sample our rule, as well as show solidarity for what we had to go through, you could take a drink for every time Greek appears in this post.

The Movie

Eh. It was what it was. And to clarify, it was a 2002 rom-com, so yeah.

What the movie did do well was tackle how a second generation immigrant dealt with integrating her American life and lover into her traditional Greek family. For instance, it was great watching Toula chase an education and a career despite her father’s disapproval, and while the feel-good ending was spotted a thousand miles away, it still felt good, even if it was a little cheesy.

What wasn’t so great was the joke crutches the movie relied on. Whether it was the dad using Windex on everything, the slapstick, or the translation goofs John Corbett was tricked into, everything felt played out by the second time they made the joke and excruciating every time they made the joke for the third, fourth, and fifth time. This was a group of writers with a very limited bag of tricks. What some remember fondly as a funny movie, now seems a little simple and lacks satisfying humor.

Also, none of us were really buying the doomed interracial white marriage plot. Yes, we get that Americans and Greeks are different and have very different cultures and traditions, but come on. They’re both white. (In no way are we taking away from the difficulty of being an immigrant in America and making a life here.) Stop playing up the interracial marriage card. Save it for couples who truly have some racial strife to overcome because the world around them is judgmental or reflecting their racist attitudes onto them. It comes off even worse because we can’t even think of a single Black or Asian character in the film.

All in all, the movie was pretty forgettable. At best, we expect the sequel to be forgettable as well. At worst, they’ll stick to the same three jokes they over-used in the first movie.

The Reviews

André: 3 squirts of Windex out of 5. After the first few minutes, I realized this was the type of movie you enjoy better if you just turn your brain off and take it all in. I indulged, and since I did, I think I enjoyed this movie more than anyone else. That’s not saying much, but still, I didn’t think it was the worst way to spend an hour and a half. I certainly wouldn’t sign up to watch it again, or watch the sequel though.

Leanna: Big Fat Greek Mediocrity. There are parts of it that I truly enjoyed that remind me of my own family. Like the part about feeding everyone – whenever I arrive in Portland, my mom always asks me if I’ve had anything to eat or if I want anything. It could be 10:00 at night and she would still heat up some dinner. I guess I’m also a little tired of the “some contacts and a new hairstyle and eyeshadow will make everything better for you” card that so many women are dealt in romantic comedies. If it weren’t for André insisting that it wasn’t those things that got Toula into school, feeling confident, and following her heart, it was actually her education, I would have written off a lot more of the film. It was good enough. We’ve watched worst, but we’ve also watched better. I probably won’t see the sequel.

Ben: 40%. The hardest reviews to write are those where the movie was completely middling. I had never seen this movie before, but I had painted a picture for myself of what the movie was about, and when it came down to it I was pretty spot on. The jokes were bad, the romance progressed exactly as expected, and the resulting family drama is pretty bland and boring. The movie does an excellent job of making a big deal over the smallest things, and the result is a rom com that doesn’t have the uniqueness it was built up to have all those years ago.