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r rated, four moon iconHBO Video (DVD), ASIN: B00006FMUW
A family celebration does not necessarily turn out like this movie -- except for the luckiest offspring. How can a Greek-American bride smile at a mother-in-law who confuses the Mediterranean with Central America? How will the groom respond to a father-in-law who hisses that the young man represents a tribe of Neanderthals? When cultures clash, romantic characters may tiptoe perilously close to a Romeo and Juliet scenario. This film should be required viewing for parents and children alike who support the principles of diversity. Its script employs every trick in the book for wringing comedy from potential tragedy.

DVD: My big fat greek weddingAt first, our hapless heroine (Nia Vardalos) appears to be exactly what she calls herself: a hopeless frump. Hair curlers, a slenderizing wardrobe, and a college class, though, rocket her into proximity with a man who smiles intuitively. The scene where each woe-begotten lover recognizes the other -- all by itself! -- merits the price of admission. Soon, a thirty-year-old woman demonstrates those charms her relatives never witnessed in their family restaurant. All along, beneath a deadly, baggy sweater, she possessed wit and beauty. These traits needed prompting, however, by a man who longs for his own personal Aphrodite.

At first glance, too, our hero (John Corbett) could benefit from a life-changing make-over. Like hers, his hair drips down his profile; his posture never earned bragging rights, either. Luckily for her, his passion transforms him into her very own Adonis. What his lukewarm upbringing omitted rushes into reality as he encounters a woman whose heritage approves women being "lambs in the kitchen but tigers in the bedroom." Her suitor even develops the courage to declare: "I came alive when I met you." Acting effortlessly in a naturalistic style, both leads successfully bring off a modern fairy tale. Over computers, no less than baklava, their stunned expressions glow with 100 percent credibility.

A long list of excellent supporting actors keeps conflicts simmering throughout their hard-fought battle for wedded bliss. As the mother of the bride, Lainie Kazan will tickle every member of the audience with her panacea for all human ills: "Eat, eat!" As the father of the bride, Michael Constantine will delight the same hearts with his determination to barbecue an entire carcass on his front lawn. As the aunt of the bride -- a position which usually receives inadequate attention -- Andrea Martin sails felicitously from arrogance to inspiration. What the Greek art of rhetoric cannot accomplish, the Greek liqueur ouzo manages to achieve, serving as a magic potion for cultural harmony.

See this movie before -- not after -- sending out any wedding invitations! In addition, arrange a showing at all bridal showers and, especially, wedding rehearsals. Released in 2002, it belongs in the family library, right along with the gorgeous photographs. Its Socratic wisdom lies in the underlying theme that happiness depends on the resolution of all threatening disputes before they bring the house down. In the context of this romantic comedy, that recipe pleases the palate exactly like the sweetest honey.

Meg Curtis

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